Great ideas and engaging content are the most important aspects of blogging, right? Well, not necessarily.
There’s nothing more off-putting than reading a potentially brilliant blog but being confused about what the writer is actually trying to say, or distracted by a glaring spelling, punctuation and/or grammar error. Incorrect spelling, grammar and punctuation usage prevents your readers from focusing solely on your content and, in such a saturated market, people are quick to look elsewhere for a more digestible read.
Like it or not, you will be judged on your spelling, punctuation and grammar in blog posts (and any writing you make public), so it is important to get it right.
An an English teacher (and a self-confessed spelling, punctuation and grammar obsessive!), I had an extremely trained eye for spotting mistakes. As a blogger myself I still notice errors constantly, so here are three basic pointers to prevent pitfalls and make sure your readers aren’t confused by/distracted from your cracking content!
1. Scrutinise ALL spellings.
In a world where countless spell-check resources exist, there are no excuses for common spelling errors. Three of the most common I see are:
Definately – the correct spelling is definitely.
Seperate – the correct spelling is separate (memory trick: separate = different parts!).
Tommorow – the correct spelling is tomorrow.
2. Prevent punctuation pitfalls.
If you’re not sure how to use every punctuation mark correctly, keep things simple. Capital letters and full stops are ESSENTIAL. All names and places need capital letters – without exception.
Stick to simple and compound sentences. You can change a full stop to an exclamation mark for emphasis (not too often though!). It is better to write an easily digestible, coherent post than to worry about whether you have used that semi colon in your third paragraph correctly.
If you also struggle with using apostrophes in contractions e.g. you’re or they’re, just write the two contracted words out in full – you are or they are. The apostrophe takes the place of the missing letter(s). It can sometimes sound a bit more formal but, again, it’s better than getting it wrong.
And plural nouns NEVER need apostrophes, for example:
Book’s / pen’s / blog’s – no, no, NO!
3. Get great at grammar.
One of the most confusing elements of grammar is mis-using similar sounding words. These are not homophones (words which sound the same but have different spellings & meanings) but are words which sound enough alike to cause confusion.
For clarification, five of the most common I see are:
Been: past tense e.g. I have been blogging for six months.
Being: present tense e.g. I am being really organised today.
Draw: present tense e.g. I am going to draw some logo ideas.
Drawer: a noun e.g. I keep all my notebooks in my desk drawer.
Definitely: being sure about something e.g. I definitely think blogging is the right hobby for me.
Defiantly: being against something e.g. She defiantly refused to stop blogging.
Sliver: a small piece of something e.g. She ate a sliver of chocolate cake with her cup of tea.
Slither: a twisting movement e.g. The snake began to slither silently along the branch.
A special mention also goes to could, would and should, which should ALWAYS be followed by ‘have‘ – NEVER ‘of‘!
These are especially tricky as they are not actually spelt incorrectly, but they are definitely (not defiantly!) wrong!
Obviously, for various reasons (e.g. dyslexia or English not being your first language etc.) spelling, punctuation and grammar usage does not come easily to everyone. If it doesn’t come easily to you, there are ways of ensuring your content is correct and makes perfect sense:
- Ask someone who is confident in their spelling, punctuation and grammar usage to check it for you.
- Use a dictionary or Google it!
- Use a professional proofreading/editing service (e.g. Penning and Planning!).
Words convey meaning – constructing the right words in the right way will make sure your readers are engaged and completely focused on the message, advice and/or information you are sharing.
Do not allow spelling, punctuation and grammar errors to blight an otherwise beautifully built blog!