The order of the words really does mattter. Sounds obvious but it’s an easy one to get wrong. Take this photo and caption that appeared in The Guardian print version on February 25, 2012 (they did a better job online). The problem is the word “her”. Which woman is it referring to? Prior knowledge tells
#34 Watch out for overloaded sentences. If you try to pile too much information into a sentence your reader will never get to the end of it and your message will be lost. See more top tips here and check out our new course on Effective writing.
#31 Use hyphens to glue words together to clarify your meaning. Take each word in turn and if it makes sense on its own with the noun then it does not need a hyphen. If it has to be glued to another to make sense, then use a hyphen See more top tips here.
#28 Be sure your verb tenses make sense. Think: are these things happening at the same time? If not, then make sure the reader sees that they are not See more top tips here.
When should you use less and when you should you use fewer? It seems fewer people are sure of the answer these days. Or should that be less people? (Just kidding. Of course it should be fewer.) I get the idea that fewer people understand how to use them because I keep seeing them used
#23 Be careful with: it’s (it is) and its (belonging to it); they’re (they are) and their (belonging to them); you’re (you are) and your (belonging to you). See more top tips here.
Isn’t our language fabulous? When I deliver my copywriting training sessions, I always try to include the startling fact that although the Oxford English Dictionary accepts (for Scrabble?) and includes over 600,000 different words in the English language, our average written vocabulary in the UK is a paltry 4,000 words. Shakespeare in contrast employed over 15,000 different
#22 Take breaks when you are proofreading. A few minutes away from the proof can help you develop a “fresh eye”. Do some other work, or go back to a proof after lunch or a coffee break and you will spot further mistakes. Honestly, it works! See more top tips here.