Writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it’s easy to make blunders. Spell check doesn’t get everything, so it’s better to learn what not to do and make a habit of not doing it. Here are some things you definitely want to steer clear of when writing blog posts!
1. Using Bad Grammar
There is such a thing as the “Grammar Police” and they’re out there. The Internet is a harsh mistress and it’s users are often unforgiving of grammar mistakes. If you use “your” where you should be using “you’re” or “their” instead of “there,” you can bet someone is going to call you out on it in the comments.
In fact, the Grammar Police are so obsessed with pointing out bad grammar that they will completely forget what you wrote about in your blog post, or miss the point entirely, just to point out the fact that you used the wrong word, didn’t make a word possessive when you should have, etc. And the Grammar Police are everywhere – they’re your typical Internet users.
For whatever reason, people find it easier (and apparently more fun) to call out bloggers, Facebookers, YouTubers and anyone else on a grammar mistake than it is to call someone out about a mistake to their face. And so they do.
Avoid this by never, ever using bad grammar. Ever.
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2. Never Using Spell Check
In addition to Grammar Police, there are also Spelling Police. Often, an Internet user will be a member of both factions, and will be equally as excited to call you out on a spelling mistake as a grammar blunder. Fortunately, since you can simply edit a blog post and remove the error, it’s not set in stone for the generations that come after us to point out as well.
But you really want to avoid having a run in with the Spelling Police to begin with, so make sure you use spell check each and every time you blog. In fact, use it twice. Run it through an external spell check. Print your blog post out and read through it, looking for spelling and grammar errors. Have someone else read it. Getting called out on a stupid spelling mistake is frustrating – especially if your blog post was really killer.
“You had a spelling mistake online 4, paragraph 6, but your blog post was so thought-provoking I didn’t care,” said no one ever.
Internet users will forget that you’ve published the cure for cancer or the answer to the existence of all life on earth and will instead point out that you misspelled “existence.” (That was intentional :))
Save yourself the headache and rid your blog posts of any and all spelling errors before they go live.
3. Putting Punctuation Outside Of Quotations
There are rules about where punctuation goes and whether it goes inside or outside quotations for certain sentences, but unless you’re studying the Little Brown Handbook, you’re never going to remember. Play it safe and put all your punctuation inside your quotations.
“The dog played in the yard”! looks stupid. It just does. Instead, write, “The dog played in the yard!” There, much better.
It’s doubtful that if you use punctuation outside of quotations that anyone will notice because many people do it wrong anyways. Rise above the rest, and put your punctuation inside your quotations. It’s the right way.
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4. Mixed Capitals In Titles
There is also some dissension about mixed capitals in titles. Technically, there are certain words in titles that don’t have to be capitalized, like “the,” “to,” “in,” etc. But in a blogging platform, mixed capitals in titles can be really confusing and make your site look broken or mismatched. Check it out:
“5 Writing Mistakes You Always Want to Avoid”
Is “to” supposed to be capitalized? Technically it doesn’t need to be, but it’s the only word in the sentence that isn’t capitalized. So did the writer just forget to capitalize that one word? Was it done on purpose?
“5 Writing Mistakes You Always Want To Avoid”
There. Looks way more professional, and it looks much better in a post listing when all the titles have all words capitalized.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s nearly impossible for normal folks to get the “which words should be capitalized in a title and which ones shouldn’t” correct. Most of the time, they’ll leave proper words uncapitalized because they think they should. This is bad and again, makes the site look broken – especially in a blog post listing.
Play it safe and keep your blog looking professional by capitalizing all the words in your titles.
5. Huge Paragraphs & Run On Sentences
Internet users skim. It’s a fact of life. No matter how in-depth and amazing your writing is, Internet users are going to skip around and read what stands out to them and glance over the rest. Very few people are going to read your blog posts in depth.
Huge paragraphs and run-on sentences don’t work well for skimmers – they can’t pick anything important out of a big block of text so what do they do? They skip it. Then the rest of the article doesn’t make sense because they’ve missed an important point, but they don’t know that. So they click off and go look for something else.
Cater to the skimmers by avoiding writing in large paragraphs. Keep it to 3-4 lines maximum, and, of course, steer clear of run-on sentences. You can also increase the reading experience for skimmers by including lots of subheadings and breaking up your text into clear, concise points. That way, someone who reads only the subheadings can still glean the gist of the article.