It should go without saying that it’s important to use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling when writing online or offline. But whether you’re writing an online article or post for your personal blog, Facebook page, or company website, the following are eight common mistakes you need to stop making when writing for the Internet.
Typing two spaces between sentences
Most people over the age of 30 probably learned to type on a typewriter or from a teacher using typewriter-era guidelines. Monospaced typewriters needed two spaces between sentences to help with separation; however, modern PCs negate the need for extra spaces because of variable-width fonts. Use only one space after the period at the end of a sentence and after any other punctuation as well.
Using long words
Simplify your writing. A long word should never be used when a smaller word means the same thing. For example, utilize is not a better word than use, and unless you’re in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, end should be used instead of terminate.
Using excessive words and sentences
This can’t be better said than as published by William Strunk in The Elements of Style (1918): “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
Using the passive voice
The active voice, in which the subject performs the action, is more bold, concise, and direct than the passive voice. For example, The dog bit the mailman, is much better than, The mailman was bitten by the dog.
Underlining words that aren’t hyperlinks
In online writing a reader expects any underlined word or phrase to be an active hyperlink to another web page or website. To show emphasis of a word or phrase use bold or italicized formatting. Also use italics for cited titles of albums, artwork, books, films, or periodicals.
Using “click here” as anchor text
For more effective search engine optimization (SEO) use descriptive keywords words and phrases as anchor text for hyperlinks. This also provides a better experience for the reader. For example, Download my latest report, is much better than, To download my latest report: click here.
Writing without a purpose
Every piece of content should have a purpose. It may be to educate, engage, entertain, inform, or persuade the reader. Regardless of the reason, all online writing should have a consequence, lead to an end result, or include a clear call to action. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Using the word very
This is a brilliant mistake to avoid from the brilliant mind of Mark Twain: “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”