Strong writing means a strong brand.
Whether you're crafting a social media post, press release, email or blog post, the goal is to make every piece of writing clear, concise and effective.
Yet a few common writing mistakes can undermine a brand's message and credibility—not to mention your own professionalism. So many people communicate via social media and email that strong writing skills are essential for driving a point across.
Keep these tips in mind before you hit "post" or "send."
Every single word should serve a purpose in writing—that means every "and," "an" and "the." It always helps to proofread out loud, so you can identify words or phrases you can do without. "That" is one of the most overused and unnecessary words in the English language.
Some phrases are repetitive. For instance, the phrase "in order to" rarely needs to be used; "to" is all you need to get to the point. A few other common redundant phrases to look out for include:
- Direct confrontation (Confrontation)
- Future plans (Plans)
- Absolutely sure (Sure)
- Final outcome (Outcome)
- End result (Result)
- Unintended mistake (Mistake)
- Exact same (Same)
- Each individual (Each)
- Often times (Often)
- Small in size (Small)
Passive vs. Active Voice
It's important to use an active voice as much as possible. Using a passive voice lessens the impact of a sentence and forces your readers to work harder. Subjects of sentences act upon verbs. For example: "Stacy's mom will book the tickets," rather than "The tickets will be booked by Stacy's mom."
Commonly Confused Words
Autocorrect is great for proper spelling, but it doesn't always tell you if it's the correct word. Here are a few commonly confused words:
- Ensure vs. Insure: If you want to make sure your group members understand travel insurance, you're ensuring they received your email. If you want to sign your customers up for travel insurance, you're insuring them.
- Than vs. Then: "Than" is used for comparisons, such as "The Mona Lisa is smaller than you'd think." "Then" has a few different meanings, usually referring to time: "Then suddenly!" or "I'll call you then" or "We'll go to dinner, and then we'll see Hamilton."
- Its vs. It's: "Its" is a possessive pronoun and "it's" is a contraction of the words "it is." If you see a dog, for example, you might say: "It's chewing a tennis ball" and "Don't mess with its tennis ball."
- Affect vs. Effect: "Affect" is a verb and "effect" is a noun. In other words: "affect" means to impact or change, and "effect" is the result of a change. For example, "The rain affected the itinerary" and "Effects of rain on the itinerary include delayed travel time and canceled attractions."
Using quotation marks to add emphasis.
When you want to highlight something, use italics—not quotation marks. Quotation marks could imply sarcasm or insincerity. Just ask Joey and Ross from Friends.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.