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How to Write Good

I wish titles like this were the exception rather than the rule, but this is exactly the type of grammar I regularly see in emails and other business correspondence, especially, I’m sorry to say, from salespeople. Take this line from a recent email I received:

"…well be landing at five and heading straight to there location…."

Or this one, currently residing in my Inbox:

“…I enjoyed meeting you toady."

We all know that email, texting, social media (Twitter especially), and other forces have changed the nature of written communication, and not for the better. Misspellings and bad grammar have become the norm rather than the exception. We don't need to search for the right words to express our thoughts because there's an emoji for that. Complete sentences are out the window as we distill messages down to staccato bursts.

If A Tale of Two Cities were written today, Charles Dickens might have simply tweeted: It was the best of times it was the worst of times royal heads roll while madame defarge knits and paris burns #frenchrevolution.

Like it or not, the quality of your words reflects on you as a professional. It's time for all of us to pay more attention to how we communicate, especially through our writing. Your readers are making judgments about you when they read your writing, and a poorly-crafted email sends a clear message: Little attention to detail; moving too fast for their own good; no pride in their quality of work; inarticulate; not particularly bright; perhaps a touch of ADD?

The good news is that there are a number of easy, common-sense steps that you can take to improve the quality of your writing and make sure you're professional in every written correspondence. Here are five actions to get you started:

Master Common Mistakes: Your is possessive, while you’re is a contraction for you are. Their is possessive, while there indicates position. These are just two of about ten common errors that I see time and time again. Look for these common mistakes in your writing, check your context, and make sure you choose the right word.

Slow Down: There are no prizes for speed when it comes to writing. Slow down and make sure that your email is coherent, professional, and effective. Save it as a draft, do something else, and then review it again in 30 minutes. Fresh eyes can catch mistakes and make sure your words communicate the message you intend to deliver.

Use Spell & Grammar Check: Was this feature removed from Word and email clients while we weren’t paying attention? You’d think so when receiving a message rife with misspellings and grammar worthy of a 3rd-grade English class. Even if you need to copy and paste your email into Word to use the spell and grammar check, take this step for your longer and more important messages.

Review Before You Send: We’re all guilty of typing and hitting ‘Send’ as fast as we can without taking the time to read what we just wrote. Make it a habit to take an extra two minutes to read your email from top to bottom at least once, than send it. You’ll catch mistakes and improve sentences that could be better, ensuring that your message meets your high professional standards.

Read More Books: Well-read people are usually good writers as well. Make sure you always have a book, and devote 30 minutes a day to reading. It's enjoyable and will also improve your writing skills.

Good luk and gud writeing!

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