Writing Well for the Web: Overcoming the Most Common Mistakes | WebReference

Writing Well for the Web: Overcoming the Most Common Mistakes

Overcoming the Most Common Mistakes

Writing Well for the Web

Here are a few tips for avoiding the most common pitfalls and grammatical mistakes:

Editorial Style

Editorial issues are always up for debate -- you can look at multiple style guides and get conflicting opinions. Think of this as a starting point, to get you thinking like a true editor.

Hopefully, you're on your way to being a more thoughtful writer -- or at least comfortable enough to seek a professional editor's advice to avoid Crit-i-Cal eRro-rs.

Grammar

Some of the most common writing mistakes involve these tricky grammatical rules. When you're using one of these words, stop to think about how you're using the word to avoid having egg on your face (or your web page).

Feel like you've got the hang of this? Then you'll sail through the punctuation section...

Punctuation

Some of these kind of cross the boundary into grammar issues. Oh well -- at least I warned you up front.

  • It's vs. Its. It's is a contraction for it is or it has. Its is a possessive pronoun meaning belonging to it or of it.

    A Test: If you can replace it's/its with it is or it has, then it's is correct. If you can replace it's/its with his, her, or their, then its is correct.

  • They're vs. Their vs. There. They're is a contraction for they are. Their is a possessive pronoun meaning belonging to them or of them. There is the partner of here (which is neither here nor there).

    A Test: If you can replace they're/their/there with they are, then they're is correct. If you can replace they're/their/there with his or her, then their is correct. If you can replace they're/their/there with here, then there is correct.

  • ... vs. .... When using an ellipsis, type three periods -- even if it's at the end of a sentence...

  • "Like this?" vs. "Like this"? Well, a U.S. style manual would tell you that all punctuation goes inside the quotation marks, "like this." In British style, punctuation goes outside the quotes, unless the punctuation is part of the quote itself.

    Of course, when dealing with URLs and computer jargon, make sure the punctuation is properly placed so that the meaning isn't changed.

Congratulations! You're a writer! You're well on your way to chunking information, writing attention-grabbing headlines, and avoiding common pitfalls (or seeking an editor's opinion). If you don't have an editor handy, check out these online resources instead.

Comments are welcome


Created: Dec. 7, 1996
Revised: Jan. 8, 2001

URL: http://webreference.com/content/writing/overcome.html