Making a case for letter case

John Saito, a writer at Dropbox, recently posted on Medium a great article describing the reasons people and apps use title case and sentence case. If you haven’t tried our title capitalization tool yet, we allow you to do both. John argues that while title case creates a nice symmetrical pattern for short sentences, sentence case creates a more casual and inviting visual appearances, something modern brands, such as Dropbox, will want to use. Additionally, he argues that Title Case actually makes picking out proper nouns in short sentences extremely difficult. In the example he gives below, he argues that users may not realize the “Calendar” app refers to a named app or just any generic calendar app.

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title case vs sentence case calendar app
Source: Medium

 

Another interesting fact John talks about is that Google and Apple use different case styles:

If you’re an Apple user, you’ll notice a lot of title case throughout their products. That’s because Apple’s design guidelines recommend title case for many UI elements, including alert titles, menu items, and buttons.

If you’re a Google user, you’ll see a lot more sentence case throughout their products. And that’s because Google’s design guidelines recommend sentence case for almost everything.

[/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]

apple vs google title case and sentence case in apps
Source: Medium

To read the full article, head over to Medium.

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Do You Double Space Between Sentences?

Two spaces after a period

When people used to learn how to type on a typewriter, the “two space after a period” rule was a must, since additional space was needed to show the difference between the spacing between a word which was smaller and the spacing between the sentences which was larger. The world has since changed. You’re not going to like it when I say no two spaces after a period, just use one.

You were probably taught to use double space after a period in high school typing class too, but that was wrong. How do you change the habit? You can easily break the habit as I haven’t used or tempted to type two spaces for decades. Quitting two spaces after a period is not like quitting a lot of things, like smoking. You don’t find yourself in a nostalgic typewriting situation and suddenly get hit by an unexpected urge to use a double space after a period.

Most people have been using two spaces after a period, as they were taught, but to correctly follow most style guides, you only need to use one which is more than enough to differentiate a sentence and words on most modern computers.

 

The easy way to get rid of two spaces after a period

If you don’t want to read the whole reasoning behind using only one space after a period, there is a simple shortcut to get rid of all double spacing in your documents. Simply use the CTRL + H in most word processors on Windows and COMMAND COMMAND +SHIFT + H on Mac. Then in the “Find” text box, type ”  ” without the quotes. That’s two spaces, what you’re searching for. Then in the “Replace with” text box type ” ” without the quotes, a single space. Then click “Replace All” and voila, your double spacing becomes single spacing.

 

Modern style: one space after period

If you still use two spaces after a period then you will be tormenting your editor. Most editors keep begging people to only use one space. Using two spaces after period they have to delete one, don’t think it’s not hard with search-and-replace, so it’s not hard to place dishes in the dishwasher either, the fact that you don’t like doing that, do you?

If the sympathy of the editors doesn’t move you, then you rule follower although some rules are not worth it. You don’t have to put up with a lot of to-heck-with-the-rules types of listeners or readers. And the new rule should be a one-space world not double space after a period.

Top style guides such Chicago Manual of Style, AP stylebook, and US Government printing office style manual recommends once space after a period.

Space after period’s story is always told as though the monospaced typewriter fonts needed double space after a sentence for excellent readability. The wide availability of proportional fonts on computers led to the use of single space.

Using a monospaced font the letters are all the same width, hence an I is the same width as an m. The proportional fonts the letter differ in widths, hence an i is much narrow than an m.

In fixed-width for example, the horizontal space used for the letter “j” is the same as that used for letter “k”.

  • Three jjj’s
  • Three kkk’s

Check the two sentences below:

  • Fonts such as Courier New will accomplish this task.
  • There are 49 letters and 3 numbers in this sentence.
  • Do 52 alphanumerical characters it in the same space?

 

Variable width fonts (proportionally)

Examples are spaced such as Arial, Verdana, Geneva and time new roman using a different amount of horizontal space depending on the width of the letter.

Example 1

  • Three jjj’s
  • Three kkk’s

Example 2: the sentences below have 52 characters.

  • Arial is a proportionally spaced font that does not.
  • Do 52 alphanumerical characters fit in the same space?
  • There are 49 letters and 3 numbers in the sentence.

 

Most publishers advise leaving the single character space, double spaces, between and after colons used within a sentence when working on either a manuscript and published work.

The AP clearly states the rule, and the MLA acknowledges that most presses use one space. The question remains way? And why did your grammar teacher tell you to use two spaces?

When handwriting, there’s nothing like uniform spacing; only if your handwriting is as terrible mine, hence wider spacing to make it clear new sentence has started.

Grammar Girl states the main reason why double space after period started with most typewriter using monospaced fonts as explained above. Note that the period of a monospaced font is quite far out from the final letter of the sentence, unlike in computers. If using dry typewriters ribbons the period will at times be almost invisible.

The shortcoming noted the reason arises to use an extra space: double space after the period to ensure the sentences concluding was visible even when the periods were not visible.

 

What about after colons?

It has always been one space after the colon; the traditional American typing practice, enjoyed by some people, who leave double space after colons and periods. The University of Chicago press, especially for formally published and manuscripts works from which they are published discourages the use of double space after the colon.

 

The shift to one space after a period

The story of space at the end of sentences is complicated that the traditional lore, with the many years of professional printing before the typesetters, typewriter tends to use wide spaces after the periods. The era of a typewriter, two spaces after period ruled, the computer era and the shift of typewriter to computer tools for typing, one space become the standard.

HTML and most of the blogging platforms, even if you use double spacing, they are eventually turned into one space after period. In special cases, where you need multiple spaces, you must hard code it in using the HTML code for space, such as &nbps giving you a nonbreaking space.

By doing so the program won’t break a line at the space a special way to keep two words together, hence they don’t end up on two lines such as dates or a name.

 

The advantages of a single space

The single space after period seems to have many advantages. It very appealing, and improves the sense of sentence flow, hence preventing the readers from getting distracted by the purgatory of an extra blank area.

The real advantages of using single space boil down to:

  • Single space is the new standard, so double space after period looks like an error.
  • HTML writing and anywhere on the web automatically removes double space, reinforce one space after period making any worrying at second space useless.
  • Double space after period, your editor will wind up doing find-and-replace and your work wind up with one space after a period adding benefits is a frustrated editor.

Recommending one space after a period doesn’t mean double space has no advantages. It has always been an element of clarity in distinguishing the end of a sentence from an abbreviation.  Further, it makes it clear a new sentence has started even if a word is not capitalized.

Lastly, you need to think of switching over to a single space. It starts with obsessing over double space after period, killing them with great displeasure, an event with a sense of loss. Within several weeks you will find and replace on every document you wrote as you will be leaving a few extra spaces in.

Within a month you will break the double space after period habit and always keep the one space after period standard in mind.

 

Additional Reference

7 Days to Better Writing – Day 7: Publishing Your Writing

Now that you’ve spent the last six days improving your writing, you’ll want to showcase your improvements somewhere. Today you’ll learn where to publish your work and how to make sure it’s ready for publishing.

 

Where can you publish your work?

You have three main methods for publishing your work that vary in cost and audience size.

Online Publishers

Amazon is by far the most well-known online publisher. They offer Kindle Direct Publishing which allows you to instantly share your writing or books with millions of readers via Kindle ebooks, but also provide full-service publishing to fill all your publishing needs. Other notable online publishers include: AuthorHouse, Apple’s iBooks, and Lulu. A new site, Reedsy, will even help you connect with the best online publishers.

 

External Publishers

For hundreds of years, the classic way to publish books has been to find a publisher who is willing to print your book. You had to convince the publisher that your book was going to sell a lot of copies or else it wouldn’t be worth the publisher’s time and investment. In fact, many well-known authors, including JK Rowling, were turned down the first time they approached a publisher. Unless you know your book is going to be a bestseller or has gained a large following via another form of publishing, you may want to hold off on publishing externally. The four major publishing companies are: Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Hachette Livre.

Other

The Internet has opened many doors for amateur writers. No longer do you need a major publishing house or newspaper to publicize your writing, you can just post it online.

Blogging has become a very popular outlet for writers as there are virtually no barriers to entry. Anyone can start a blog on WordPress or Blogger, and instantly make it available to billions of people. Similarly, online forums such as the Subreddit /writing allow you to make your work available to thousands of people and get feedback immediately.

 

Format your writing for publishing

Now that you know where you’ll publish your writing, you need to make sure it’s formatted correctly so that your audience doesn’t immediately dismiss you as an amateur.

Style Guides

Depending on where you’re publishing your work, you may need to format your writing and titles in one of the following ways:

  • Elements of Style: The most common guide used by writers of all kinds, the Elements of Style is a must for any amateur or professional writer.
  • Chicago Style: Mostly used in academic settings for journals and manuscripts, Chicago style is still “one of the most widely used and respected style guides in the United States.”
  • APA Style: The APA, or American Psychological Association, style is most commonly used by the social sciences in journals.
  • MLA Style: MLA style is most commonly used to write and source papers within the liberal arts and humanities.

While there are a number of styles you can use, the Elements of Style is by far the most likely candidate for you.

 

Online Tools

Besides using our title capitalization tool to make sure your writing titles and headers are correctly formatted, there are a number of other online tools that can make sure your writing is correct. Here are our top 5:

  1. Grammarly: One of the best proofreading tools on the internet, Grammarly checks for all sorts of grammar and typo issues. It then coaches you on how to improve. There is even a Chrome extension available so you can edit right from your browser window. Check out our Grammarly review to learn more.
  2. Google Docs: The online word processing capabilities of Google Docs lets you share your writing with anyone for proofreading and formats your writing to work with most major publishing platforms.
  3. ProWritingAid: This tool not only tells you what to improve, but also how to improve. It has the ability to generate a detailed analysis on overused words, sentence length, writing style, plagiarism, clichés, redundancies, “sticky” sentences, consistency, and the like.
  4. ClicheFinder: Most readers are turned off by clichés; they see them everywhere. So why not identify them before your readers? ClicheFinder is here to save the day.
  5. PublishXpress: Want to quickly convert your Word documents to ebook-friendly formats such as epub and mobi? Try this online tool that does just that.

 

Publishing your writing can be hard work, but very rewarding once the world is able to read your creations. Best of luck!

 

For more from our 7 Days to Better Writing series:

10 Most Common Grammatical Errors

We have all made grammar mistakes at some point whether in writing or when we are sending messages to other people. Social media has been detrimental to the proper use of the grammar since most people use short forms when texting which in turn affects their grammar, especially spelling. Grammar errors manifest themselves in many ways including misspellings, wrong use of tenses, and wrong punctuation. This is probably why we need copy editors when dealing with serious publications. This article will take you through some of the most common grammar mistakes that people make.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

1. Run-on sentences

These types or errors usually occur when two independent clauses are joined together without the right kind of punctuation.  The run on sentences can be fixed by;

  • You can decide to separate two clauses into different sentences.
  • Use a comma with a subordinating conjunction like before, because, until, while, although, e.t.c.
  • And lastly, only connect clauses that are closely related in thought otherwise they remain on their own.

 

2. Errors relating to pronouns

A pronoun can be defined as a word that is used instead of a noun. Examples of pronouns include I, she, he, who, many, whose and many others.  Pronouns can be divided into three:

  • Subject pronouns like her,
  • Object pronouns like her
  • Possessive pronouns, for example, hers.

Here are a few rules that will help you avoid pronoun grammar mistakes.

  • Only use subject pronouns if the pronoun is the subject of the sentence.

Example: He cleaned the car.

  • You can use subject pronouns to rename the subject in a sentence.

Example: This is the speaking.

When using a pronoun, it should agree with the nouns in the sentence. If the pronoun is in singular form, the noun should also be singular and vice versa.

3. Apostrophe usage

Apostrophes are used to show possession but they cannot be used after a possessive noun such as hers, theirs, yours and mine.

For example:

My brother’s bike is next to her bike.

An apostrophe is also used in “it’s” as a short form for “it is.”

For example:

It’s a hot day

Possessive nouns do not require an apostrophe. For example, yours, ours, theirs, his, etc.

5. Misplaced modifiers

Modifiers are words or phrases that which act as adjectives or adverbs to describe words or make their meaning more specific.  For example, fast, slow, crazy and pretty.

A modifier should be placed next to the word it is supposed to identify. The modifier is supposed to refer to a certain word in a sentence.  If the modifier is far away from the word it is supposed to modify then it could lead to wrong meaning. It is always right to make sure that modifiers are used correctly in a sentence.

An example of a modifier is the word happy in the following sentence.  The happy girl.

Some modifiers can be misplaced which usually leads to a confusion. The misplaced modifiers can be corrected by placing the modifier before a noun or the pronoun it is describing.

An example of a misplaced modifier is.

People who exercise regularly are healthy.

The right sentence should be:

People who regularly exercise are healthy.

Notice the placement of the word regularly has changed to give the sentence an easier understanding.

6. Wrong use of a hyphen

A hyphen is a mark or symbol that is used to join two or more words to form compound terms or to show that a word is not complete at the end of a sentence.

Some people do not know where to place the hyphens hence making grammar mistakes. Below are some rules that will guide you to avoid the mistakes.

Use a hyphen when you have two or more words that come in front of a noun they modify and act as a single idea.

For example:

A state-of-the-art laboratory.

Do not use a hyphen when you have the adverb very, and in cases of adverbs ending in –ly.

Incorrect:

  • The very-talented girl.
  • The finely-refined leather.

The hyphens in the two sentences are unnecessary.

A hyphen is not usually used to separate a period of time if the time is written in plural form.

For example,

She has a four-year-old child.

In that case, the period of time is in the singular.

 

Now let’s change the same sentence so that the period of time is written in plural.

Her child is four years old.

In that case, do not use a hyphen.

Always use a hyphen when referring to a span of time. For example, 2006-2010.

7. Quotation marks

A quotation mark is usually used to denote a quotation from another source. It is also used to show spoken language i.e. the words said by another person.

For example:

“I don’t care what you do,” she said.

If there is a question mark in a certain quotation, the quotation marks should be after the question mark but if the question marks not a part of the quotation then the closing quotation marks come before it.

“Can we have chicken for dinner?” Raymond asked.

In this sentence, the question mark stays within the quotation mark because it was part of the said words.

When we are speaking verbally to other people may indicate the use of a quote by saying, open quote and end quote at the end. Full stops or otherwise known as periods and commas should be inside the quotation marks.

Example:

“Hurry up, we are running late.”

In cases where the quoted text occupies more than one paragraph, start the new paragraph with opening quotation marks but only use the closing marks at the end of the whole quoted text.

 

8. Spelling mistakes

Spelling mistakes mainly occur when people write a word the way it sounds. These grammar mistakes can put you in a lot of trouble. To avoid such embarrassment we recommend the following rules that will help you improve your English spelling.

  • Use a dictionary. In case you are not sure about a certain word, don’t take chances, always refer to a dictionary.
  • Write down the difficult words you come across for future reference, by doing this you improve your memory and the spelling for the big words will stick in your mind.
  • Be careful about the homophones. These are words that are pronounced the same but they are spelled differently.

Example: affect and effect, allude and elude and many others. If you do not know the spelling and meaning of the said words you are likely to confuse during writing.

Familiarize yourself with the spelling rules. Go through some of the commonly miss-spelt words to help you be extra careful when dealing with such words.

 

9. Capitalization

The most common rule about capitalization is that we should write the first letter of a sentence in uppercase. But apart from this people usually forget other rules like starting some nouns with a capital letter even when they appear in the middle of a sentence. If you have any issues with capitalization, use our free title capitalization tool.

Always capitalize the name of a person, a company, days of the week and months, holidays and institutions.

Do not capitalize a city or town if it appears before a proper noun. The example in the sentence, the city of New York the word city cannot be capitalized but when it comes to New York it is capitalized. The New York City.

 

10. Use of passive voice

Always try to avoid the use of passive voices in your writing.

For example, “the fruits were eaten by Mary” can be written in active an active form as “Mary ate the fruits.”

 

The above guides will save you the trouble of grammar mistakes when you want to write. Reading a lot about the English language will help you avoid some of the common mistakes.

What Exactly Is a Copy Editor?

At times it is almost impossible to write an article without any grammatical mistakes hence the need for a copy editor. A mistake in a publication lowers the credibility of the whole company and takes a long time to regain the trust and credibility. Copy editors are people who go through a written material to correct any errors whether they are grammatical, punctuation or spelling. Some publications may have a particular style in which they want their articles to be written and copy editors go through the materials to make sure all the rules have been followed.

A copy refers to the written material, whether handwritten or typed. In news publications, a copy editor also looks for mistakes that could them in trouble like defamatory statement and errors regarding facts.  Depending on the publication policies, the copy editor can rewrite what they feel does not conform to the organization’s guidelines.

Some, however, prefer to return the copy to the editor who had assigned the work rather than rewrite it.

Many people do not distinguish between copy editing and line editing. Line editing involves looks at the creativity, and the language used to in writing and do not necessarily focus on spelling and grammar.

So What Exactly Does a Copy Editor Do?

A good copy editor should have a command of language so that they can effectively point out the mistakes in a copy.

  • A copy editor corrects grammatical errors, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Corrects wrong usage of word or phrases
  • Changes passive voices to active voices if there is the need to do so.
  • Gets rid of unnecessary words and inappropriate jargon in a copy.
  • Removes redundancy in a copy.

Common Tools Used by Copy Editors

The most important tools for copy editor are a reference book.  Among the reference books a copy editor should have a dictionary to guide them.

In organizations which have their own set guidelines, the copy editor should have access to the guide book containing the guiding rules that the company follows. Always use those resources to improve your work.

  • Notebooks: Copy editors need notebooks to write down important notes. It could be some of the most common mistakes they find in written materials or any good ideas from the materials.
  • Copyediting newsletter: A newsletter helps a copy editor to know the changes that are happening in the copy editing industry. The newsletter will help them keep up with the day to day updates about copy editing.
  • Style guides: Style guides are essential for copy editors to know how to correctly format text and what grammar to correct.

Other online tools that are important in copy editing include:

  • Grammarly: This tool checks for any grammar mistakes.  The tool points out the errors and gives suggestions and explanations for the errors.
  • ProWritingAid: The tool shows areas where certain words have been overused, the length of sentences in a paragraph and repeated words or phrases.
  • editMinion: The tool points out areas where the writer has used passive phrases and wrongly placed adverbs.
  • SmartEdit: This tool is very useful to a copy editor since it highlights spelling mistakes, repeated phrases, and adverbs.

 

Common Errrors Identified by Copy Editors

When going through a story, there are common things that might seem obvious can but actually, be problematic.

  • Always check the spelling of well-known people’s names if they are used in the story. Some of these people have names that are hard to write and it is, therefore, good to double check the spelling just to be sure the word is correctly spelled.
  • In cases where a writer talks about a recent event that occurred whether it is a crime or any other major occurrence, always refer to earlier stories to see if the facts match. In case the facts do not match to those on another story; check other publications to see which facts are consistent.
  • As a copywriter, you may be unfamiliar with some of the issues tackled in a story. Do not assume them. Check related publications to bring you up to speed with the issues.
  • If the writer has used a quote, confirm from the writer of the quote to make sure that it is quoted as it appears.
  • In some stories, writers may refer to someone as ‘the late’. As a copy editor, it is your duty to check whether the person is actually dead. Such a mistake can lead to a lawsuit.

What to Look out for When Hiring a Copy Editor

Look for an experienced person in the field of copywriting. The number of years a person has worked may determine how good the person is at the job. An experienced copy editor will also perform the task with ease and efficiently.

  1. A person who pays attention to details. In copy editing some of the grammar mistakes cannot easily be identified is a person is not keen and attentive during copy editing.
  2. A curious person. Curiosity with the surrounding is a plus since the person will know what is going on within their surrounding and therefore when editing a copy, everything does not seem new to them.
  1. Have a basic training in copyediting. As an organization, you should look for a person who has some training in grammar, scripting and news writing skills.
  1. Passionate about what they do. A person may have all the necessary qualifications in a job but lack passion for the job. Meaning they do not enjoy what they do. Such a person may not perform the assigned task to the satisfaction or may even find it hard to meet deadlines.
  • If you want to become a good copy editor, you should be a reader.
  • Reading ensures that you are up to date with what is happening and it, therefore, becomes easy to point out mistakes in a copy.
  • Be a critical thinker. This is a person who can recognize good writing and are able to improve a bad copy instead of doing away with the whole copy.

 

Copy editors are important in any organization since they help you avoid the shame of publishing a copy that is full of grammatical errors. Copy editors help you improve the quality of content in your publication.

7 Days to Better Writing – Day 6: Seek Constructive Criticism

The best way to get better at writing is to seek criticism from peers and mentors who are invested in your journey to becoming a better writer. No one gets better without feedback, and writing is no exception. When I say to seek criticism, that does not necessarily mean asking someone to proofread your writing. Rather, have your coach evaluate your entire writing and suggest ways to improve.

What is constructive criticism?

Constructive criticism is feedback you receive from someone else about your writing. Feedback can focus on any number of things related to your writing, including: tone/mood, grammar, vocabulary, flow, captivating intros, etc. A solid mentor, which we’ll discuss in the next section, will be able to provide you with feedback on all of these areas and help you identify the areas where you need to get better.

 

Where can you seek constructive criticism?

While you can always seek relatives or friends as writing coaches, the Internet has also opened up a whole host of other resources. From Subreddits about writing to online proofreading tools, you have access to writers and editors from around the world.

Family and Friends

Family and friends will probably be the most convenient sources who can provide feedback on your writing. While they may not be professional writers or editors, they can provide you with a general compass for your writing. Be wary of feedback from friends and family though, as it may not be as useful as criticism from strangers since people you know may hide your weaknesses so as to not offend you.

Online Forums

The Internet is filled with forums that allow you to interact with writers from the around the world. The most useful website for writing feedback is the Subreddit /writing where hundreds of thousands of writers hang out. You can easily submit your writing to this site and have lots of comments within minutes. Other great online forums include Critique Circle and WeBook.

Mentor

There is no single place to find a writing mentor, but having one is a must in order to get better at writing. You can try searching forums online, reaching out to people in your local community, or asking friends and family if they have any recommendations. Even try reaching out to some of your favorite authors. They were once in your shoes and my bet is at least one who you reach out to will be willing to at least have a conversation with you about how to get better at writing.

The best mentors will be able to give you unbiased feedback about your writing and ideally be very strong writers themselves. Don’t settle for a mediocre mentor or you will only produce mediocre writing.

Bots

While not able to provide thematic feedback, the many automated bots online these days make proofreading and copyediting a breeze. Tools such as Ginger Software and Grammarly will instantly evaluate your writing and show where you need to change things or how you can improve.

 

When you seek constructive criticism for your writing you want to make sure that you are getting the best advice. If one of these options, say a family member, is not working out, try a different method. It’s important that you have a mentor who can stick with you as you continue on your journey to becoming a better writer.

 

For more from our 7 Days to Better Writing series:

7 Days to Better Writing – Day 5: Define Your Audience

It is important that you define your audience for writing. Understanding who you are writing for will determine the tone of your writing. Knowing who you are writing for will allow you to better captivate your audience.

Determine Who Will Read Your Writing

The first step that you need to take to define your audience is to determine who will read your writing. You will need to figure out if the audience that you are writing for is primarily technical, business, or leisurely.  You will then need to look at the demographics within those groups to ensure that you are able to write in a manner that will grab their attention.

 

Who is Your Primary Audience?

To determine your primary audience, you need to think about who is going to be reading your work. There are three main audiences that you will need to consider:

  • Business
  • Technical
  • Leisure

Once you have determined which category your writing falls into, you will need to determine the demographics of the category that you are trying to reach. Each category will need to be broken down further to refine your audience.

Business

If your writing will be business-focused, you need to make sure that you are familiar with the business for which you will be writing. When you are writing for business there are a couple of questions that you will want to ask yourself:

  • What type of business am I writing for?
  • Is my primary audience male or female?
  • What is the average age of people in this type of business?
  • Am I teaching or informing?

Once you have answered these questions, you should have a general idea as to what style of writing you want to use. Each of these questions will help you narrow done the time and style that you want to use when you are writing.

Technical

Technical writing is a whole other beast. Often your audience will have an expertise in a certain area and you need to ensure that your writing takes advantage of that, providing more in-depth topics when writing about a known subject matter or higher-level overviews when the audience is not as familiar with the topic. Here are a few questions you will want to ask yourself before you write:

  • What level of education does my target audience have?
  • Am I explaining myself in a way that makes sense?
  • How is the reader going to use this material?
  • What age group is my target audience?

These questions will help you determine the level of writing you will need to use. By using these guidelines, technical folks will be more inclined to consume your writing.

Leisure

There are a number of questions that you need to ask when you are writing for leisure. There are a number of different genres that you have to consider as well as a number of different sub-genres that you should be familiar with.  We list only a few of the questions you should be asking if you choose to write for a leisurely audience:

  • What genre are you writing?
  • What age group are you writing for?
  • Are you writing for men or women?
  • Is the intent to entertain or inform?

These questions are only a guideline to help you set the tone of your writing. If you intend to write for this audience, make sure you truly understand their needs as a slight misstep on this front could result in nobody reading your writing.

Remember to Define Your Audience for Writing

Keeping these simple things in mind will allow you to define your audience for writing. Visualize this audience as you begin to write and your tone will naturally come. Again, if you are unsure about who your audience is, you can simply ask these questions:

  • Are you writing for business, technical, or leisure?
  • What age group are you writing for?
  • Are your readers going to understand what you are trying to say?
  • Are you writing for men, women, or both?

Understanding these key points will allow you to become a great writer with whom readers eagerly engage. Misunderstanding who your audience is, on the other hand, can lead to you wasting your time writing something no one will read.

 

For more from our 7 Days to Better Writing series:

7 Days to Better Writing – Day 4: Improve Your Grammar and Vocabulary

What’s the number one way people are turned off by an author? Poor grammar and lots of typos.

Ok, not always, but generally when an author has a typo he/she immediately loses credibility. How many times have you pointed out a spelling mistake on a menu? We know We have.

If you’ve ever had issues with grammar or vocabulary, you are not alone. The onslaught of spell-checking software and grammar-checking websites exist for a reason. But never fear! There are a ton of ways you can improve your grammar and vocabulary.

 

Start by Defining Your “Issues”

Getting better at anything requires you to identify your weak areas. The same is true for improving your writing, grammar, and vocabulary.

  1. Ask a friend or seek professional help in order to spot your mistakes if you cannot identify them.
  2. Write down what you want to improve as starting point
  3. Figure out where you want to end up. Starting with the goal in-mind is crucial to bettering yourself. Want to improve your vocabulary? Set a goal to learn 100 new words in 3 months.
  4. Then create a strategy that will help you achieve that goal. If you set your goal around improving your vocabulary, set a goal to include 10 new words in every piece of writing going forward.

With a goal and strategy in mind, you will soon be on your way to achieving your goal.

 

Tools for Improvement

Now that you have your goal and plan for improvement, how can you actually improve your grammar, vocabulary, or other writing skillset? Thanks to the Internet, there are a lot of resources that you can use to get better. Below are some resources you can use:

  • Websites such as “Grammar Girl” provide daily tips and tricks for improving your grammar and punctuation. In addition, they provide lots of articles on correct usage.
  • There are tons of grammar and writing books out there, both for reference and improving your writing. One of our favorites is appropriately named “The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need.”
  • As we mentioned on Day 1, read more. The fastest way kids learn new words is by reading books above their reading level and looking the words they don’t understand up in the dictionary. The same habit for adults. Reading more will not only teach you new words, but also provide you with examples of proper grammar.

 

Proofreading Other People’s Content

 

The classic cliché that “practice makes perfect” holds true with improving your writing as well. If you truly want to become better with grammar and expand your vocabulary, there is no better opportunity than proofreading. Once you’ve read some guidebooks/blogs on grammar, you’ll be able to easily pick out common errors in others’ writing.

There are a number of websites, scribendi.com and proofreadingpal.com to name a few, where you can apply to be a proofreader. Or just ask your friends to send their essays for school to you next time they need to submit one.

Proofreading is great practice for improving your grammar and vocabulary skills. You may even get to crack open a Thesaurus to see if you can learn a new word or two while editing.

 

For more from our 7 Days to Better Writing series:

Your Readers Judge You for Those Minor Typos

Have you ever laughed at a typo you saw in the menu at your favorite restaurant? It may not have deterred you from the delicious “Chicken Farmesan,” but it certainly caught your attention.

Recently, several psychologists have researched why we easily notice these typos and sometimes get angry or annoyed with them, particularly in emails (such as this one).

Through multiple experiments, researchers found that “readers rated the writers as less desirable if the emails included either typos or grammatical errors.” In particular:

People who scored high in conscientiousness or low on the “open-to-experience” trait were more bothered by the typos. People who scored low on agreeability were more bothered by the grammos [sic]. And people who scored low on “extraversion” were more bothered by both types of errors. In contrast, how people scored on neuroticism did not alter the impact of either type of error.

The experiments couldn’t say 100% conclusively whether your friends will judge you negatively if you have typos in your messages, but did infer that you should probably proofread before sending. Especially watch out for those late-night text messages.

SalonThose little typos and grammar errors in your emails make a big impression

7 Days to Better Writing – Day 3: Join a Writing Community

As you continue on your journey to better writing, you may begin to feel a bit lonely. Maybe you’ve been spending quite some time indoors honing your daily habit of writing or you just wished someone were there to keep pushing you. Never fear! The revolution of the Internet has brought writing communities that are just a click away where you can join thousands of other people on a similar journey.

 

Why Join a Writing Community?

  • They serve as a forum to interact with different people worldwide. These people have the same passion for writing as you do and also want to become better writers.
  • You can always seek advice from those who are further along on their journey than you. In addition, getting feedback on your writing from lots of different people will always make it better.
  • People always share “goodies” on these communities. Whether it’s good books worth reading, meditation tapes, funny images, writing resources, etc., writing communities can provide you with valuable information.
  • Postings for jobs or contests are always posted in these communities.

And top of these reasons, you are making friends, which is always a plus. Making friends with folks from around the world who share similar interests will help you in your writing journey. You learn from different cultures and you share your knowledge with others.

 

Where Can You Find Good Writing Communities?

Surfing the net is the easiest way to find writing communities that fit your specific needs. Websites such as Scribophile are a good way to start. Reddit channels such as r/Writing also provide a great pre-built community where writers can share their work and get real-time feedback on it.

 

There are also several Facebook pages that you can join or follow. From communities dedicated to work as a “Union for Freelance Writers” to sites where you can share a laugh with the people there or even share with your non-writer friends. If for some reason you don’t find anything that appeals to your taste, go ahead and create your own writing community. Make sure it has a specific focus though to ensure people stay engaged.

 

For more from our 7 Days to Better Writing series:

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