Common content writing errors in business documentation.
Content writing is the coalface of your business and online presence. There are some errors in content writing that keep presenting themselves. It is useful to keep reminding ourselves of these – after all it makes good writing sense.
Excessive and redundant words
This is one of the most common problems I find when editing other people’s work. I often hear people say ‘write as you speak’. This is not true. Listen to people speaking. People repeat a lot of their words and add additional wording if they think they are not being understood – remember with interpersonal communication, body language plays a major role.
Some people use verbal communication to clarify their thoughts and process their information. You can’t afford this in business writing. In written communication it is called clutter. Unnecessary words, repeated words and jargon hide and bury your key message.
- In business each word must carry its weight and add value to the intended message.
This is another issue I find in editing. Long sentences are confusing and sometimes make no sense. Keep your sentences to 30 words or under. Make sure each sentence has a subject (and must be a noun or name of something), an action word or verb, and an object. Keep your verb close to your subject noun.
Avoid prepositional phrases such as: ‘until such time as’, replace it with ‘until’; or ‘with a view to’, replace it with ‘to’.
Replace phrases where you can with a simple conjunction. For example: ‘as a consequence’ can become ‘because’; ‘in view of the fact that’ can be replaced with ‘because’.
- In business writing, keep your sentences simple.
A singular subject takes on a singular verb and a plural subject takes on a plural verb. You can mostly get it right by saying it aloud. ‘He runs’ and ‘they run’. You wouldn’t say ‘they runs’ or ‘he run’.
Verbs don’t become plural by adding as ‘s’ as nouns do. For example: ‘The dog barks’ versus ‘the dogs bark’.
The real difficulty is in complex sentences and when there are two or more subjects.
- Keep your verb close to its subject and you won’t go wrong.
Most people find this impossibly difficult. Simplify it.
How many plums do you have? More than one, therefore it is plural – add ‘s’. ‘Plums’ ‘Apples’.
Do you mean ‘it is’. ‘It is incredibly difficult’ can become ‘it’s incredibly difficult’
Do you mean possession? ‘Mary owns the book’ can become ‘Mary’s book’.
- Reword your sentence and think about what you really mean.
I find I say this to the point of boredom. Unfortunately it remains a common problem. What’s the real problem?
I think sometimes people always spell some words incorrectly. Therefore they don’t actually know they have the wrong spelling.
People get confused about American, UK and Australian spelling. Unfortunately there are differences, and there is quite a list of these differences.
Occasionally we want to use a word we know, but have never actually spelt – and it may be a tricky word that doesn’t sound like it is spelt.
- Make it general practice to check spelling.
The punch line in content writing
The punch line is that despite social media and a general apathy around grammar, punctuation and spelling, they are still important – in business, in education, in marketing and in general documentation.
Poorly written articles, emails, marketing documents, blogs, brochures or whatever, say loads about your business – and it’s not good.
Go that extra step. Take some care with your business documentation content writing. Have a look at this information for your website