Creating new writing habits
When you’ve done something the same way for a long time, you’ve developed a habit that can be hard to break. For instance, those of us of a certain age who learned to type on a typewriter were taught to leave two spaces after periods. With the advent of computers, that extra space became unnecessary, but some writers still include it — only to have it deleted by editors like me.
Creating new writing habits takes plenty of concentration, but I believe it’s well worth the effort. Here are a couple common miscues writers can correct with the proper focus:
Who and That
Don’t fall into the trap of using who when referring to a group of people.
Wrong: We have a team who is hard to beat.
Right: We have a team that is hard to beat.
Not Only and But
Your copy will read better if you use and instead of not only and but when linking two clauses.
Clunky: Having a diversified portfolio can not only ensure the security of clients’ principal but fund their cash flow needs.
Better: Having a diversified portfolio can ensure the security of clients’ principal and fund their cash flow needs.
It can seem overwhelming to create a bunch of new writing habits, but if you choose one or two at a time, the process gets much easier—and your writing gets better.
Use the right word
If you think less and fewer are interchangeable, you’re wrong. Fewer is correct when referring to countable objects, while less is used with intangible concepts like time.
- Fewer than 20 employees attended the meeting.
- Less than an hour was needed to complete the report.
SIMPLE HR Tools
I was honored to help the founder of SIMPLE HR Tools with the content for his recently launched website. This innovative company’s goal is to uncomplicate the process of developing stronger employee relationships — leading to a stronger workplace culture — by using simple conversation facilitators. Learn more here.