Avoidable (but Common) Errors in Content Writing – Part 1

Common Errors in Writing | IHuS Research

Of the few certainties of life, typing mistakes while writing would rank fairly high. Even the greatest minds have trouble getting everything right in their first drafts.

In fact, even professional content writers make such mistakes. The problem is not that mistakes are made but that people are unable to detect and rectify them. This especially happens while editing one’s own write-ups.

And even though the intermingling of different cultures and proliferation of chat clients and messengers, social media, news media, and web content has resulted in content that does not adhere much to traditional grammar rules (rather, it focuses on a good read), some rules do make for good writing.

Here is a small compilation of common errors in content writing that can be easily avoided.

Use of Commas:
Some of the toughest battles between the editor and the writer are on commas.

Without going into too much detail, some common cases where a comma is required include separations such as elements in a series, independent clauses, and introductory words or phrases.

In some instances, the comma can be included or left out. Here is an example: “I bought a t-shirt, a shirt, and a pair of shoes on my way back home”. The last comma before ‘and’ – called the Oxford comma – is optional. Though its usage has waned, it does offer some respite in a long sentence. It can be particularly useful when trying to make long sentences coherent.

Independent clauses that are joined by ‘and,’ ‘but,’ ‘for,’ ‘or,’ ‘nor,’ can be separated by commas as well. However, if two independent clauses joined by conjunctions make a full sentence then you can remove the comma.

At the beginning of a sentence, people use a subsequent comma after an introductory word or phrase. Here is an example: “In the beginning, I did not know how to use the comma.”

Did you notice that the first sentence of the above paragraph starting with ‘At the beginning…’ also had a subsequent comma?

A good way to avoid comma errors is to include them where you think they ought to be and then read out the sentence. If there are too many pauses, then you need to reduce commas or the sentence length. Secondly, try to avoid sentences that have an introductory phrase or clause. For instance, the first line of the paragraph above with the example will read better as: “People use a subsequent comma after an introductory word or phrase at the beginning of a sentence”.

Incomplete Comparisons:
This is another common mistake. People often write incomplete comparisons such as: “My car is faster, and better”. Well – faster and better than what? Whenever you use comparatives, complete the sentence in all respects.

This sentence should be: “My car is faster and better than yours (or your car)”. This makes the sentence more lucid for your readers.

The only possible exception is if the preceding sentence makes the context absolute and clear.

Passive Voice:
Sentences that have objects in them and especially nouns that receive the action tend to go into passive voice. Traditionally, the object of a sentence should be put at the end. However, in passive voice, it is placed at the start. This makes the sentence weak and unclear for readers. Ironically, the passive voice may actually make technical or scientific writing easier to understand.

Nonetheless, this is the traditional view. Passive voices do make for easier reading if combined in a write-up with active voices. So use both but don’t go overboard with either.

Have you had problems in school when you wrote a word twice twice in your hurry to complete the assignment? This common mistake happens because the mind sometimes waits for your hand to catch up. The brain also reiterates a word so you do not lose your train of thought. The result is repetition.

Easy way to avoid it – change MS Word’s (or any other word processor you use) language settings to check for spelling and grammar. This way, you will avoid repetition as the second word will be highlighted. That said, repetitions in some cases actually make sense. For instance, the sentence “If you had had ice cream, you wouldn’t feel low” is correct.

A better way is to read the content once s-l-o-w-l-y.

And yes, the word twice was repeated above just for the heck of it. We like to drive a point home again (and again). Call it madness. But our writers love our editors for this. Honest.

We will bring more such tips in the future. You see, we suddenly realised we cannot say we offer quality content writing services (only offered with SEO services) without helping someone outside the company improve her or his writing in some small way. The stress is on ‘small’. We are not that mad!

Image: Painting of Russian writer Evgeny Chirikov by Ivan Semenovich Kulikov (1875–1941)

This post originally appeared on our earlier website: ihusresearch.com