No two individuals write in the same way. Much like their personality, every person has a unique style of writing. In fact, the style of writing is largely a reflection of our personalities. When working on a project that involves a lot of content, it makes sense to have one person write all the content instead of multiple people writing the content. This ensures consistency of voice, making it coherent and easy to read. The reader feels that one person is talking to him or her.
However, assigning a single writer is rarely, if at all, possible when dealing with large projects. In such cases, there should preferably be a single editor who can lend the aforementioned unified voice. Good content writing firms consider this a priority. Also, it is important to determine the target audience and then decide how they would like the voice to sound. Content for ‘light’ topics can be conversational in nature. However, for technical and other so-called serious topics, the tone is best kept neutral and matter-of-fact.
An inconsistent voice is not a writing error per se but it does bring the need for uniformity into focus. Let us take a look at some other similar ‘errors’ today. These are not writing mistakes like incorrect punctuation or misspelt words but errors that creep in when you overlook something.
Presence of Extra Spaces
When completely engrossed in a project, there is a natural urge to write quickly. When doing this, it is common to hit the spacebar twice or sometimes even 3 times! The extra spaces between words often go undetected, even after a thorough proofreading. When posted online, this unintentional error can become a glaring eyesore, particularly with monospace fonts. A simple way to avoid this error is to use the Find and Replace option in MS Word (Shortcut – Ctrl-H). This feature easily identifies all instances of extra spaces and rectifies them in a single click!
Not Consulting a Second Pair of Eyes
It goes without saying that one should ideally check the content after writing it. This review is often incorrectly called proofreading, which is actually done only after editing. Reviewing helps avoid common grammatical errors and silly spelling mistakes that go unnoticed even by the automated spell-check. Yet, this does not ensure that you will find all the mistakes – the words are so fresh in our minds that everything seems right. The brain also skips small errors. For example, if you read a sentence that says: I am albe to read thigns very well, thnak you, chances are the brain would miss the three spelling mistakes as it would do a subconscious auto-correct that will not let you register the problems.
What really helps is to have a second person review the content dispassionately. A new set of eyes can spot errors which go unnoticed even after more than one review by the original writer. Professional content writing firms should have this secondary review as a part of their content creation process before it is sent for editing. This obviously helps avoid mistakes which otherwise result in a poor reading experience or even credibility issues.
Also, a second pair of eyes can significantly cut down the time required for editing and proofreading while also eliminating the need to revise the content extensively.
Type of English Based on the Region
Another common mistake in writing content is to overlook the primary target audience. If the majority of the readers are going to be from the United States, it makes sense to write in American English. Similarly, if more readers reside in England, Australia or India, one should write in British English. There are many minor differences between the way English is written and spoken around the world. The differences in spelling are obvious and can be detected (usually) by the automated spell-checker. However, there are a lot of subtle nuances that must be kept in mind.
When a reader from one country reads content written using a type of English that they are not accustomed to, it may still be readable but the structure will seem awkward. In more than a few cases, some words have entirely disparate meanings. For instance, the word moot means a subject is open or being discussed in British English. However, in the US, a moot point is a lost cause. Tolkien had some fun with this word with his Ent-moot, where the Ents talk about a subject for so long that it becomes pointless by the time the discussion is over.
We realise that we have started to cover only the proverbial tip of the iceberg – actually less – of the most common errors in content writing. Future posts will talk about other widespread errors common while writing content. Till then, keep smiling.
Image: The Scholar by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606–1669)
This post originally appeared on our earlier website: ihusresearch.com