Watching the news these days, you may be led to believe that grammar has fallen by the wayside and that it’s no longer important to present yourself professionally in written correspondence. Well, we here at All Things Writing say, “WRONG!” Your writing is every bit as important to your image as your spoken word, and we’re here to prove it.
The Importance of Commas
Commas are infinitely important, especially when you’re making it clear that you are addressing someone or creating a list of items.
In this example, readers are left wondering if you want to invite rhinoceri and the past presidents of the United States to dinner or if you’re calling those past presidents horned mammals:
We invited the rhinoceri, Washington, and Lincoln. (Created by Eric Edelman)
Oh, the power of the comma to embarrass and insult. The problem is, the Oxford comma is not used in AP style, the rules that regulate journalism and other genres.
And just because the comma IS so very powerful, we’ve got a few more examples for you. Without proper use of commas, you could make yourself appear cannibalistic:
Let’s eat, Grandma. vs. Let’s eat Grandma.
Are you telling Grandma that it’s time to eat, or are you commanding your army of fellow cannibals to eat her for dinner? Ack.
The Right Ways to Use Quotation Marks
How are your quotation mark skills these days? Do you understand their proper usage? You can employ those cute little marks that hang out up in the air to:
You do NOT use them to emphasize a word, or people will certainly think you’ve lost your mind … or possibly never had a well-working one to begin with:
You “matter” to us.
Choose the Right Words for Crying Out Loud
Writers and editors everywhere give a collaborative shudder each time we encounter the wrong use of there/their/they’re. It’s really very simple to stop the massive suffering. Just learn the proper usage! We have faith in you. You can do it! Come on, just try to soothe us a little.
And choosing the right words applies to more than just there/they’re/their. Watch out for those homophones. Make sure you’re advertising a bazaar and not something bizarre. And please, if you’re going to lose something, don’t let it be your loose pants or your patients.
Say What You Mean in Plain English
Another way to make yourself look silly or simply lose your audience after the first line is to write in an overly complicated manner:
If your language is too copious to appeal to the average understanding of individuals using demotic language, meaning readers who are attempting to comprehend the complex syntax of your scribed diction, you could be required to elucidate in the future.
Just say what you mean without all the fluff and flowers. With simple language, you’ll be more effective at getting your message across and win points with your readers for making your content readable.
For help in all these areas, turn to the experts at All Things Writing, LLC. We’ll dot your i’s and cross your t’s, all while using the correct “their,” penning plain language, while balancing on one foot. It’s what we do. Give us a call today to put your best content foot forward.
All Things Writing is a full-service content development and content marketing company on a mission to help clients shine online and in print. Our clients are from the private, government and nonprofit sectors. Become one of those clients today, and start aligning your content with success.