See no need to write better? Then you see no need to communicate with others. If you’re wealthy, live alone, and are thrilled to stay that way, you’re probably correct. Why improve your communication skills? It’s not as though you’re a writer or anything.
It’s everybody else I’m speaking to now,
Typos Aren’t Usually the Communication Problem of the Writer
If you often find yourself explaining emails you sent or Facebook posts you crafted, you probably don’t communicate as well in written form as you could. You can improve. The number one way to write better is to write a lot.
Grammar Matters if You Want Respect as a Writer
Too many friends of mine who communicate for a living don’t seem to understand the foundation of communication: common ground. They act as though grammar and spelling rules don’t apply to them. Their writing is cool and different and stands out from the crowd.
Yes it does. It screams, “You’re ignorant and don’t seem to care.”
I can correct a handful of common writing errors in the next three minutes. Follow extremely simple rules of writing and your writing instantly looks, sounds, and reads as though you have a brain cell or two.
Commas and Periods
Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks.
Q: Where do commas and periods always go?
A: Inside quotation marks!
“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”
In the days of typewriters, students were asked to use underlines for book and magazine titles. Today, you always can italicize titles and you always should. (Except on some social media postings that don’t allow italics. There, use quotation marks.) Save underlining for hyperlinks. Never use underlines anywhere but those that appear in hyperlinks.
Certainly never underline to emphasize words! Always use italics to emphasize words and don’t overdo them.
About Exclamation Points!
Stop! When you put exclamation points at the end (!!!) of every sentence, and all over the place in your writing (!) they begin to lose their effectiveness quickly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don’t! Overuse!! Exclamation!!! Marks!!!!
Be selective where you use them!
I tell myself this one as much as you. When I finished my superb tome, God and Guns: Why I am Not a Pacifist, and when I went back to edit my first draft, I saw far too many exclamation points. As with too many italics and too many fancy fonts, too many exclamation points detract and never emphasize. In other words the more you try to emphasize with them the less emphasis they have; your reader gets desensitized to their power.
Big Numbers and Little Numbers
Although this isn’t a hard and fast rule, in general when you write numbers that are 10 and lower, spell out the number as in, “We stayed four days.”
For numbers larger than 10, type the words, as in, “We stayed 21 days.”
Big Words and Little Words
Exceptions are possible, but for a book’s or blog’s section titles, don’t capitalize small helper words such as the, and, and a.
This title: “The Tempest in the Teapot” is better than “The Tempest In The Teapot.”
In this title, the initial word The should be capitalized because it’s the first word in the title but otherwise you would start the with a lowercase letter.