Writing articles or writing for the web does not differ too much from writing for “normal” printed publications. If you know how to write, you are one step ahead of most folks. Adjusting your writing to compliment the web, only takes a few minor adjustments that are easy to understand.
We all make mistakes, and I know that’s hard to admit for some, but it is a reality. We get in a hurry, don’t pay attention, or the dog comes wagging up to you with a mouse in his mouth! Yep, total distraction, and it happens to the best of us.
However, if you’re not careful, writing for the web can sometimes generate repeated mistakes simply due to the amount of work you’re trying to produce. Fortunately, with a few tweaks here and there, these mistakes can be avoided. You certainly don’t have to be an English major, a wizard or a genius to be a talented writer, especially when writing for the web.
The following are the most common mistakes a lot of people make when writing for the web.
It is, its and it’s
I’m assuming we all know how to use “it is,” but when it comes to the apostrophe, things can get twisted and distorted. For the record, “its” is a term used to express possession such as, “its color is black.” The latter, “it’s” is short for “it is” such as “It’s snowing outside!”
Punked out by Punctuation
Did you know that excessive use of the comma can turn readers off?! Yeah, it’s true. Furthermore, colons and their sister, semi-colons should be avoided all together if at all possible. If you find yourself using an enormous amount of commas, colons and semi-colons, what you should do is create shorter sentences instead. For example, let’s say you have, “It’s super important to keep in mind three basic aspects when buying a new car; appeal, affordability, and comfort.” What you should do instead is, “Appeal, affordability and comfort should all be aspects to keep in mind when buying a new car.” See how easy and natural that sounds? No semi-colon is necessary!
Periods and Spacing
We should all know how to properly space and put periods in their respective places, however, most of us learned in school to double space after periods. When it comes to the writing on the web, only one space after a period is all you need.
NO “And’s,” “But’s” or “Yet’s”
I don’t mean you can’t use these words at all, what I mean is you should never start a sentence with those words. It’s an easy and simple mistake to make and quite common. Instead of using one of those words, try using something like “However,” or something closely related.
Keep it Short and Perky
When you’re writing an article or web content, try keeping your sentences to a minimum and be sure to include some spunk. With a little personality added to a simple sentence, your reader will continue to read more. It’s also a fabulous idea to use bullets or numbers when making points.
Help with Headlines
Always capitalize the main words in your headline, but not all the words. Exclude “is,” “of,” “to,” and “for.” UNLESS one of those words appear at the beginning of your headline, then you should capitalize it. Additionally, breaking up your content into sections and using headlines to identify each piece is extremely helpful for the reader.
There, Their and They’re
Use the appropriate format for your sentence. Let’s go over it.
– There, conveys location. “My book is over there.”
– Their, conveys that someone possesses something. “Their writing sucks.”
– They’re, used to shorten “they” and “are.” “They’re having such a great time.”
Than and Then
Just to set things straight, let’s define the proper use of these two little buggers.
– Than: Usually this word will follow right after a “there” because it is a quantitative term, (meaning mathematical.) For example, “There is nothing more frustrating than someone who tries to tell people how to write.”
– Then: This word indicates time such as, “We didn’t have the Internet back then.”
First person or third person, who really gives a flip?
Well, if you’re writing articles or any online content, you should give a flip. Pay close attention to how you begin your articles and how you finish them. Many times throughout the Internet you can see a shift in an article from first person to third person or the opposite. Figure out what perspective you want to write from and stick with it. It can be quite confusing if you don’t.
Oh yeah, I am writing for the Internet, and they have links!
When you’re writing, and if it is applicable, use links in your writing. Whether it’s for a definition, a place, an event, another website, or anything really, it allows the reader to get involved or find the answer to questions they might be pondering.
Try to avoid using “Just”
When you use the word “just” it implies to the reader that the task or subject matter is easier than portrayed. For some, this could upset them to the extent they may go off and tweet about it…heaven forbid. Simply remember, (I SO wanted to use “just”) the implication of this word and use it sparingly.
Alright, that pretty much sums it up and now you know the most common mistakes to avoid when writing articles or writing for the web. You are now equipped to write better copy and produce stunning results.
What are some of your mistakes when writing for the web? Do share; we’d love to hear them!