This is a guest blog post by Brian Patterson. What’s your secret of better writing ? You are more than welcome to share your tips and useful tools with us by giving your comments!
The written word is a funny thing. Get it right, and you can build nations, stop wars, and create monumental movements. Get it wrong and at best you are simply ignored or forgotten, and at worst you are ostracized. As they say, “the devil is in the details”. If you can avoid typos and grammar mistakes in your writing, you can ensure that readers can focus on your message rather than being distracted by
Today I’d like to share my top 3 tips for eliminating errors from my writing and improving the quality of my written words. For any important documents that leave my desk (or inbox), I am certain to apply all of these steps so that my message is crystal clear.
Use that Thesaurus
Have you used a thesaurus since grade school? If not, it may be time to rethink that. Thesauruses are great for adding a deeper dimension to your writing. Rather than using tired and meaningless words such as “unhappy”, a thesaurus can steer you towards words with a much richer meaning, such as “discouraged”, “sorrowful”, or “downcast”. It is the little things that will set your work apart from the rest, and demonstrating a strong command of the English language through the use of a wide vocabulary in a clear indication of intelligence and knowledge. So, if you haven’t checked out a thesaurus in a while, head over to a site like Thesaurus.com next time you are writing a document.
Take Advantage of a Grammar Checker
Online grammar checkers have come quite a long way from that red or green squiggly underline in Microsoft Word. While those underlines were a breakthrough 10 years ago, now sophisticated grammar check tools such as Grammarly.com review content for everything from little typos to advanced grammar issues such as dangling modifiers, comma splices, and subject-verb agreement. For any formal document, it really is critical to run it through a tool like this, as it will be reviewed and graded just as if you had your own personal English teacher reviewer.
Say it Out Loud
Reading what you write aloud is an amazing hack for picking up on typos that you would otherwise miss. When you just read what you write to yourself (not aloud), your brain tends to fill in missing letter and punctuation, skip over duplicated words, and fix continuity issues. However, when you read your work aloud, something magical happens. You are forced to focus on each and every word, and as such, your brain will stumble on mistakes rather than fixing them in your mind. This means that you’ll pick up on a majority of your typos by just reading your content aloud. If I do nothing else before sending out an email or writing a note, I absolutely read it aloud.
There you have it, my top 3 tips for error-free, quality content. It may sound like a bit much, but remember that when people read your work, they form opinions about you. You would much rather have those opinions be based on your ideas and eloquence, rather than your accidental misuse of the English language.
Brian Patterson is an IT consultant with a background in web development and marketing for corporate and government clients in the Washington, DC area. Brian currently works with Grammarly.com, a web-based grammar and spell check tool that is used by over 300,000 students and hundreds of Universities worldwide. In addition to the web-based Grammarly tool, there are also plugins for Microsoft Word and Blackboard to check content directly from those applications. You can read more about the tool, and Grammar talk in general, at Grammarly.com/blog.
Courtesy : Photo by Kim Piper Werker