Eliminate frightful writing mistakes
At this time of year, many people actually go out of their way to be spooked to celebrate Halloween. But most times evoking a frightful response is a bad thing. For instance, if you’re writing for business purposes, the last thing you want to do is scare off potential clients with content that’s riddled with mistakes—something that will make them second-guess whether they want to spend their hard-earned money on your product or service.
Employing a professional writer is one way to ensure your content is error-free. A second is hiring an editor if you wish to do the writing yourself. And a third is bypassing using a professional but taking great care to ensure you eliminate common errors so you don’t inadvertently shoot yourself in the foot. Here are a few tips to help those of you who choose option three:
1. Use specific years to ensure your copy ages well.
- Wrong: For more than 25 years
- Right: Since 1995
2. Ensure the idioms you use are correct.
- Wrong: For all intensive purposes
- Right: For all intents and purposes
- Wrong: Peaked my interest
- Right: Piqued my interest
- Wrong: Wet your appetite
- Right: Whet your appetite
- Wrong: Piece of mind
- Right: Peace of mind
3. Make the right choice from commonly confused word pairs.
- Awhile is an adverb that means “for a time.” A whileis a noun that means “a period of time.”
- You emigrate from a country and immigrate to a country.
- Who’s in the contraction of “who is”—Who’s going to the NLCS? (Padres) Whose is a possessive related to whom or which—Whose season is over? (Dodgers)
4. Be careful when linking clauses.
- Wrong: Laser-focused on a goal, the numbers are trending our way.
- Right: Laser-focused on a goal, we see the numbers trending our way.
The numbers aren’t laser-focused, we are.
Branding vs grammar
Marketing pros work hard to establish memorable brands and they expect writers to adhere to their standards. For instance, isolved, a workforce management solution, isn’t capitalized. Knowing that, it’s best to not start a sentence with it.
- Wrong for brand: Isolved manages human capital.
- Wrong for grammar: isolved manages human capital.
- Right: Human capital management is what isolved does.
PDT to PST
In most parts of the U.S., folks will lose an hour’s sleep on November 6 as we go back to standard time. On the West Coast, that means we start Pacific Standard Time (PST), which runs through mid-March. Then, we spring forward to return to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), commonly referred to as Daylight Saving Time.
Is it necessary to use these designations in writing? I say no; it’s enough to note Pacific time (PT) if required, perhaps for event scheduling when participants are sprinkled across the country.
Don’t forget to fall back!