With the advent of social media, the power of the post has been given to anybody with a device and a ready internet connection.
Every mum can be a blogger and every blogger can be an expert, but sometimes we forget that with great power comes a moderate amount of skills and responsibility.
The Detriment of Quality Writing
Because it has become so easy to post, the quality of our collective writing has greatly diminished, sometimes to the detriment of clarity and more concerning, to the detriment of meaning. The perfect example of this is the age-old adage about the party, wherein a man invites the rhinos, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Imagine his surprise when horned, half-ton George and Abraham show up in place of two presidents and a few rhinos. In this case, a missing comma cost a company $5 Million in workers compensation.
The other issue is around shorthand and made-up words. The norm nowadays is to shorten every other word in a text, much like the old school shorthand and utilise abbreviations and ‘made-up words’ through social posts. The problem is that this meaningless shorthand is now starting to creep into our written articles and blogs.
Edit is the Way to Go
So, what is there to be done? The answer lies in the edit. Always proofread what you’ve written, (or had been written for you) especially when it is going to be posted for others to see. Whenever we edit work, there are a few things we look out for. You have to know the conventions surrounding common grammatical mistakes, such as that vs which, then vs than, who vs whom, etc. You have to understand how apostrophes work, and where to put commas and semi-colons. You have to use tense correctly, and make sure there isn’t any subject-verb disagreement. You have to be careful where you place modifiers so that they sensibly modify one of the structural elements. There are about one hundred and one other things to look out for to make sure that a piece of text is error-free.
We know that it might sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with proofreading. Read what you’ve written aloud to make sure that it makes sense. This is the easiest way to catch silly mistakes, the ones you could have easily avoided but make you look the worst. If you’re unsure, ask Google. There is a plethora of resources available online to help you — better to double-check than to be sorry.
Uphold a Professional Standard of Writing
Practice makes perfect and everybody makes mistakes, so don’t be surprised if you get caught with a mistake or two; somebody will be sure to correct you. The problem comes when we consistently don’t make the effort and become lazy. It diminishes the quality of our writing, and in a business context, it can be very costly. At the very least, following writing conventions shows that you uphold a professional standard. Imagine you have walked into a business and the office is full of empty cans and takeout containers, and all the tables are scattered with unorganised papers, and the receptionist hasn’t ironed their shirt and doesn’t look up from their phone to greet you. Would you perhaps begin to have certain expectations regarding the company standards? The same goes for your writing. What you post reflects on you and your business, and it’s important to keep a professional standard when writing, especially online where everybody can see it.