How to Make Your Writing Look Smarter
Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to help.
At a recent business event, a colleague handed me a flyer promoting one of her seminars. The flyer disturbed me to my core. The typos! The poor grammar! The abominable spelling!
I had to fix it all.
So I proceeded to a quiet corner, where I bled quarts of red ink. After tearing apart her otherwise finely crafted flyer, I approached her and presented my masterful edits. (Important note: The woman didn’t ask for my help.)
She peered at my scribbles and gave me the evil eye. She hasn’t spoken to me since.
Okay, I’ll admit my unsolicited “help” was a tad obnoxious—but I had good intentions! Bad writing is bad for business. While no one is prefect (um, perfect), when you commit consistent language crimes, you’re telling the world, “I don’t care about the details” and “I was raised by wolves.” You may have impeccable products backed by impeccable customer service, but a sloppy marketing message tells people otherwise. Impressions matter.
Now, before you get all huffy, too, I admit I know a few wildly successful business owners who have a loose interpretation of the English language. But they are indeed the exceptions.
Do you want your writing to reflect the same level of professionalism as your products and services? While we can’t cover all grammatical issues in a single article, here are three of the most common errors to avoid. By doing so, you’ll make your writing—and your personal brand—look a whole lot smarter!
Don’t Cap It
Do you capitalize random nouns in the middle of a sentence? Don’t! Nouns are capitalized only when they start a sentence or when they are a proper noun (a person, place, or thing with a special name). All other nouns should be lowercase.
Wrong: Our Roofing Materials are of the highest Quality.
Right: Our roofing materials are of the highest quality.
Mind Your Apostrophes
Over the past few years, I’ve seen more and more people use an apostrophe “s” (‘s) to denote plural. What’s up with this? When I see it, I want to stick a fork in my eyeball.
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever use an apostrophe “s” to mark a plural. Ever.
Wrong: We offer bookkeeping service’s for your small business.
Right: We offer bookkeeping services for your small business.
Instead, use an apostrophe “s” to indicate when something belongs to something else, such as, “The donut’s filling is chocolate.” As an aside, any sentence about chocolate must be good!
Know Your “It’s” from “Its”
Do you know the difference between its and it’s?
Its is the possessive form of it. If something belongs to it, then use its.
Wrong: It’s importance cannot be underestimated.
Right: Its importance cannot be underestimated.
It’s is a contraction of it and is.
Wrong: What are you waiting for? Its about time!
Right: What are you waiting for? It’s about time!
Again, no one is perfect. (I might even have a couple of typos in this article, despite having proofread it several times.) Just try to get your written communications as neat and accurate as you can. It can truly effect (um, affect) your bottom line.