Writing for Web: Grammar

Grammar is not sexy. It is not exciting or glamorous. But grammar is important.

I’m a proofreader. I hear more times than I can remember, “I couldn’t do what you do, I couldn’t read all day, or Ugh. How do you do it?”

I love what I do, that’s how. I am a proud grammar Nazi, word nerd, or whatever other name you call me. I read your articles, stories, texts, ads, and statuses, and catch the errors. I am not perfect, but I am your best friend.

This chapter discusses why grammar is important, and I agree with Felder 100 percent. You don’t have to know every rule, but you should know if you’re good at grammar or not. If you are, hone your skills. If you are not, make friends with someone who is. You will grow to love them. We’re not monsters, just rule-driven perfectionists.

So why does it matter?

Because you want people to take you seriously. You want readers to stay on your page and come back. Without good grammar and spelling, your readers will think you’re a joke. You will become one of the people who is a YouTube hit due to their crappy writing. And, anyone who knows better will make fun of you.

Not all grammarians are bad. I don’t proofread texts or personal emails, and when I do proofread, it is to make it better. That’s our end goal: try to make it perfect. With that said, here are a few tips to help you:

1. When in doubt, look it up. It takes three seconds to search something. Webster, grammarbook.com, and Grammar Girl are great tools.

2. Read it aloud, slowly. You will be amazed at how many changes you make. In fact, you are reading my third or fourth version of this post!

3. Don’t be shy. Have everything proofread: posts, resumes, cover letters, anything that someone else will read. The other reader doesn’t have to be a proofreader, but it is always better to have an extra set of eyes on something.

4. About commas and apostrophes: If you are unsure about using one, don’t. It is more forgiving to overlook a missing one than to draw attention to a misused one.

5. Decide when you can break the rules. Sometimes it’s okay to end a sentence with a ‘to’ or ‘with’. Break the rules when you feel it’s necessary for Web or creative writing, but try to follow them in professional letters and resumes.

6. Use spell check. Pay attention to those red squiggly lines.

7. Respect proofreaders; don’t begrudge them. They work hard to know the rules and only want to help.

If you keep these tips in mind, you will improve your writing. The world is moving toward incoherent speech more and more, and if we do not fight it, we will sound like the people in the videos below. Enjoy the laughs, because they are hilarious, but know that could be you if you’re not careful.

And my personal favorite: