When developing website content for your business or organization, you know that it’s important to have quality. However, the most compelling content in the world can only take you so far, as simple grammar errors or poor phrasing can negatively impact how readers absorb the information.
The following are some common grammatical mistakes you should keep an eye on when developing website copy:
1. Misusing forms of words. Any copywriter (and most readers) will cringe when reading “there” instead of “their,” “it’s” instead of “its” and “your” instead of “you’re.” Be sure to know the proper uses of words before you publish your web content.
2. The dangling participle. You should always be sure that the modifier of the sentence matches up with the appropriate subject in sentences that begin with the participle. Here’s an example:
- WRONG: Featuring the highest-quality design on the market, we promise that our products will meet your needs.
- CORRECT: Featuring the highest-quality design on the market, our products will meet your needs.
3. Overusing “can,” “might” and other similar words. The purpose of your website is to demonstrate how your business helps its clients and customers. To say something to the effect of “We can work with you to address your needs” is ambiguous and doesn’t give the reader much confidence that you will actually be of any help. Instead, use direct, active language to portray exactly how you help your customers.
4. Mismatching bullet points. Whenever you use bullet points in web copy or blog content, make sure that they all fit together. All bullet points should fit into the same category, and all points should relate back to the main topic.
5. Using “over” instead of “more than.” When writing about how many years of experience you have, for example, it is grammatically correct to state that you have “more than 30 years of experience” rather than “over 30 years of experience.”
6. Misusing or forgetting hyphens. You must use a hyphen whenever you modify a noun with more than one word. For example, a sports reporter might write that “Michael Jordan was an All-Star basketball player,” as the word All-Star modifies the noun “basketball player,” but no hyphen would be necessary when stating that “Michael Jordan cemented his legacy as an All Star.” Additionally, no hyphens are necessary after adverbs that end in “-ly.”
7. Not using contractions. If you choose to avoid all contractions, your copy becomes far less fluid and conversational. While you don’t want to start using slang or improper language in an attempt at producing “casual” copy, it’s important that the audience reading your copy feels as though there are actual people behind the words on the screen.
The good news is that these grammar errors are easily correctable—it just takes a keen eye. Once you begin to learn the rules, writing becomes much easier and a lot of fun!
Tim Backes is a senior editor with ProPRcopy.