As of this morning, the Internet is populated by 1.13 billion websites, which are viewed by approximately 3 billion people daily. Each of these websites typically contains a graphic element and a written element. It’s the written element where your professionalism shines through … or not.
In this century, almost everything you write eventually appears somewhere on the Internet in full view of the world, whether that text was originally intended for a website or not. Thus, you must maintain your standard of writing from now until the day you die. (In fact, you might think about writing your own obituary, just to be on the safe side!)
In the meantime, while you are still alive and kicking and writing, here are 10 tips for creating coherent content:
1. Use as few words as possible, but always write complete sentences. “Short and to the point” is a good motto. Long sentences can quickly become convoluted, and your reader shouldn’t have to untangle your prose in order to understand your meaning.
2. Do not misspell words. It makes you look unprofessional and, in the era of spell-checking, there’s no excuse for it. Take the time to run all your copy through a spell-checker.
3. Avoid redundancy. Say what you have to say once, not twice. Your readers will thank you.
4. Try to avoid using contractions, particularly in your professional writing (they are more acceptable on social media):
- “You’re” is “you are.”
- “They’re” is “they are.”
- “It’s” is “it is.”
5. In fact, stop using the word “it” entirely — your writing will improve instantly.
6. Avoid technical jargon and abbreviations. If you must use an abbreviation, always spell out on first reference.
7. Always use the correct terminology in its proper context — again, this attention to detail showcases your professionalism. “Dentil crown molding” is not “dental crown molding.”
8. Avoid exclamation points or UPPERCASE WORDS! MLS property descriptions are steaming cauldrons of exclamation points and uppercase words. Relax and stop shouting.
9. Check your grammar to ensure that it’s correct — and remember that software grammar-checkers can be a bit iffy. So:
- Acquire a copy of the book The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
- Read The Elements of Style from cover to cover.
- When you’re in a pinch, read the sentence aloud. This will alert you to many common grammatical errors or awkward sentence construction.
10. Finally, to quote Rod Serling: “Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.”
Every aspect of your professional persona is under constant scrutiny. Your appearance, your performance, your demeanor and your communication skills draw people to you or chase them away. There are always exceptions, but I think you will find that the tips listed above are a useful guide to building and maintaining a successful writing style.
Keep up the good work!
David Redic has worked as a programmer, data analyst, website builder, IT director, tech writer, copy editor and educational film maker. He’s currently the webmaster at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Kovack Realtors, and he also blogs about wine.