How many times have you found yourself struggling to get past the first few lines of a blog or article online, just because an errant comma has changed the meaning of the sentence?
There is no doubt that content writing requires imagination and an articulate way with words, but the basic understanding of grammar and punctuation is always a must. When you, as a freelancer, send an article with multiple punctuation errors, you not only lose your credibility but might also have clients refusing to enter into further contracts as it can significantly affect their relationship with online users. No brand wants to make their readers believe they are incapable of putting a sentence together!
In the current era of slangs and short forms, the basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation is overlooked. And even one error can ruin the credibility and accuracy of the content online.
Punctuation is one aspect of the English language which is often overlooked. So let’s jump right into few of the most important punctuations to keep in mind -
1. Too many commas? Or too less?
Here is Contemporary Editing’s advice for you “Most punctuation errors are over-punctuation errors.” Some people feel obliged to throw in commas after every “and” and every “but”, making the sentence over complicated and far too tough to understand. Some feel shy to add those few necessary commas between the required “and” and “but”, making the sentence far too confusing.
Here are few examples of where commas are required the most just for you lot, who provide writing services -
- To separate the days of the week from the time (12:20, 2nd November, 2018)
- To separate the different areas of an address
- Before every “which”
- Before every dependent clause (She bought the car, but declined the extra accessories)
2. Where do I add the full stop?
You can add the period between two independent clauses and let it do its job. A full stop between two independent clauses makes it two different sentences, and you get a complete and clear picture of what you want to convey
For example - Rhea broke her mother’s vase. Her mother was not thrilled.
So those with online content writing services look out for these.
3. Where to add the semicolon?
The addition of a semicolon and where to add them are often misunderstood. The semicolon expands the first clause to the second clause to explain it further.
But here is what Kurt Vonnegut has to say about that “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”
So we would suggest using them with a limit. After all, you do not want to sound too pretentious.
4. Exclamation marks
These punctuation marks are a complete no for those with SEO content writing services. No one would like a very cheesy article. If you plan to use them, try to use them in limited quantity, like one or two per page.
5. Leave your punctuation inside the quotes
A big mistake in article writing and online content writing is leaving those important punctuations outside the quotes rather than including them inside it. For example -”I wrote an article today,” she said, rather than “I wrote an article today”, she said.
Resist the urge to capitalise insignificant words in an article, or keywords. Capitalise only proper nouns, the letter ‘I’ or the first word in the sentence. Don’t capitalise every keyword in a title, as it may look out of context and may even grab the attention of the professional content writers and the grammar-nazi’s out there.
You definitely do not need to have mastered in anything other than basic rules in English language to know where to add the apostrophes. Much to the displeasure of the English majors and those who provide freelance writing services, apostrophes are often used incorrectly or not used at all.
When you use contractions, never forget to place that apostrophe and place it correctly.
If you plan to squash a few words into brackets in content writing, try to leave the punctuations outside the box. Give those punctuations some space to breathe; they might be a little claustrophobic (like this).
9. Ampersand and other symbols
What is an ampersand, you ask? The ampersand or the ‘and’ (&) symbol and other symbols like ‘@’, should generally be omitted from your main content. It looks better sitting in your titles.
As they say, the last is definitely not the least, and hyphens are definitely not the least important punctuations to keep in mind. These lines are used to link two words, to make it more logical to understand. Like the word “off-campus” and the phrase “off campus” have two different meanings. It is also used in expressing estimates of time and to express fractions in words.
Language is not so complex if you learn to use it properly.
As professional content writers, we are obliged to have great content. And to fulfil that, basic knowledge of our language is required. Here is a confusing contradictory statement of great value: the content on your business blog should not entirely be about your business. A reader would visit your blog to gain some insight. You have to connect the narrative with your business and your products, make it interesting and increase your website traffic.
Give business blogging a shot, voice your opinions, and make your business and your products known.
Is your punctuation game on point? Do you spend hours correcting someone else’s mistakes? Share your challenges below and we will help you!