As a proofreader of business writing, I see many of same errors made again and again. Errors in your writing (be they in advertising copy, correspondence, or a web site) are more serious, I believe, than most people realize.
Why? Well, standard of your writing has always been important. Today, though, more than ever before, FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT. We are bombarded by written word in its many forms -- books, pamphlets, magazines, signs, e-mail, web sites and many other media.
We are all suffering from information overload and are forced to find ways of screening out as much as we can. We thus tend to make quick decisions on what to read and what not to. First impressions increasingly determine what we read and what we don't, and poor writing leads to a poor first impression.
The following list of tips should help you to avoid some of most common slip-ups.
1. Capitals: Avoid temptation to capitalize words in middle of a sentence Just To Provide Emphasis Like This. If you want to be more emphatic, consider using bold face, italics, color or larger text.
2. Commas: The most common use of comma is to join together short sentences to make a single longer sentence. We do this with one of following small joining words: and, or, but, yet, for, nor, or so. For example:
We have finished work, and we are looking forward to weekend.
Notice that two halves of this sentence could each be sentences in their own right. They thus need to be separated with a comma and joining word. In next example, though, we don't need a comma:
We have finished work and are looking forward to weekend.
The halves of that sentence could not stand alone, so no comma was used.
3. Ellipsis: The ellipsis is a series of three -- and ONLY THREE -- full stops used to mark missing words, an uncertain pause, or an abrupt interruption. Avoid temptation to use six or seven dots -- it looks amateurish. For example, we write: