Grammar is extremely important when writing anything—from an email to a business proposal. Even simple mistakes can make you come across as unknowledgeable or unprofessional. Here are a few simple things you can do to keep your grammar in check.
Use Grammarly to check your work.
If you have looked for help with your grammar, you’ve probably heard of this program. Grammarly is great for identifying grammar mistakes beyond normal spellchecks. Its suggestions on phrasing can help with condensing word count or making sentences clearer and more concise. I have only recently used this software, and it’s definitely a great asset for any writer. This is especially true if you don’t have a lot of time to go through and check your work for grammar, spelling, and the like. It can also be linked to other programs such as Gmail, Slack, and LinkedIn, so you can always showcase great writing.
Double check with a dictionary or stylebook.
Spelling and usage can be very confusing in any language, especially English. Many words are spoken the same but spelled different, hyphens may be necessary depending on the situation, and proper punctuation is not always straightforward. A great way to confirm you’re using the correct word and punctuation is by using a dictionary or a stylebook such as the Associated Press Stylebook or Chicago Manual of Style. I like to use Merriam Webster when I’m unsure about a word. This dictionary has helped me with general spelling checks, word usage, and confirming if two words should be separated by a space, separated by a hyphen, or joined into one word. The stylebooks can also answer questions such as when to spell out a number or use a numeral, how to properly use academic titles, and when to use—or avoid—abbreviations.
Take the time to read through your writing—even emails—more than once.
Many people recommend double-checking your writing. If you’re like most people, you probably edit a few things after your first read-through. A simple second read-through will help you catch mistakes or sentences that don’t sound right. For example, your edits may create changes in verb tense, missing words or repetitive information. Many writers don’t catch every error the first time. This read-through isn’t checking for grammar–it’s mainly checking for cohesive sentences and clarity.
Read your writing out loud to hear what your piece sounds like.
Your eyes and brain are stellar at reading by themselves, but adding your ears into the equation can help you catch things you didn’t notice before. You know how things should sound when you hear others speak. Reading your own work out loud allows you to hear odd phrasing, grammatical errors, and other mistakes that are hard to spot by just looking at your writing. I find this trick helpful when proofreading long sentences or sentences that don’t always make sense.
One important thing: Always do what works best for your situation. If you don’t have the time to use all these tips, work with the time and tools you have. And, if you can find a colleague or friend to help, that’s even better. A second set of eyes and ears are always helpful when proofing.
All these tips work for whatever you’re writing; it doesn’t matter who your audience is or what length of your piece is. With these tips and tools, you can ensure your content is great!
Rachel Wichlacz is a Wisconsin native and Florida resident currently working at CuraScript SD as a Marketing Lead Analyst. She has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from The University of Tampa. Rachel is a blogger for the AMA Tampa Bay with a background in marketing, design, and technical communication.
Connect with her on LinkedIn.