Emails, blog posts, Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram captions—we’re constantly reading. The internet has definitely made us lazier when it comes to our writing, but if you want to make your social media look professional, clean copy really makes a difference in the appearance of your posts.
Not only will these tips make you look more professional, they will also make you look smarter. And your hair, it looks thicker and shinier than before. Also, that outfit is to die for!
I see the same punctuation and spelling mistakes over and over and they’re usually ones that can easily be fixed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an expert but I do know a thing or two about writing.
Here are a few simple housekeeping tips for your writing.
Two Spaces After a Period
I don’t care if that’s the way you were taught to type. You don’t need two spaces after a sentence. I know it might be hard to break the habit but please stop doing this. Please, please, please, I beg you.
Unless you are writing the name of a business that includes an ampersand (also known as “an and sign”) or you’re composing a tweet and have run out of characters or maybe you’re writing an informal list, an ampersand is fine. Depends on the context but an ampersand is almost never needed.
Do: Barnes & Noble
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I’ll admit—this one gets me fairly regularly, mostly because the rule with “its” and “it’s” doesn’t make sense, and that is usually how I remember it. Because it’s dumb. An apostrophe followed by an ‘s’ usually means possession is involved. Unless you mean it’s. I know. It’s confusing.
It’s = a contraction of ‘it is’ (It’s a beautiful day.)
Its = denotes possession (The dog wagged its tail.)
Ah yes. A classic.
They’re is the easiest of the three to remember since it’s a contraction of ‘they’ are ‘are.’
There can be remembered since ‘here’ is inside the word, as in ‘here and there.’
And the other one is their, meaning ownership. You know who owns a lot of stuff? An heir. It’s right in the word. (Yes, okay, I don’t really have a clever thing for that one.)
The more exclamation points you use, the less professional your stuff looks!!!!!!!!!!!! Unless you are going for humor or sarcasm, please limit your exclamation points to one!!!!!!!!!!!! People will still get the hint.
Numbers in Copy
Different style manuals will tell you different things when it comes to numbers but I usually go with this method:
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, etc.
As soon as you get to 11, you switch to numbers. This just looks crappy:
“The boy was 6 years old.”
Whatever method you go with, at least be consistent.
Spaces Before End-of-Sentence Punctuation
WHY IS THIS A THING ? THIS SHOULD NOT BE A THING .
Sentences With Capital Letters
Fine in titles, irksome in sentences. When Sentences All Start With An Uppercase Letter, It Makes It Harder For The Reader’s Eye To Flow Through The Sentence. Do You See What I Mean?
If there’s a word you are unsure of, you can just Google it and it’ll guess the word you mean. Google is the best, fastest dictionary and it’s great. Highly recommend.
“Is” is used for one thing, “are” is used for more than one thing. Example:
“Is there a dog at the park?”
“No. Actually, there are many dogs at the park.”
“Is there a reason we are currently not at the park with all these glorious doggos?”
“No. There is not. Let’s go!”
English doesn’t make sense sometimes. I have no clever way of remembering this one either, but it goes like this:
I walked through the door.
I threw a ball.
Thru is a fake word fast food restaurants made up to save space on their signs. Please don’t use this horrible creation.
Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to writing? Let me know in the comments!
Note: This post was originally published on Medium.
Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a hoarder of podcasts and a history enthusiast. Learn more.