In the PR world, most of your work consists of writing so it is important to make sure your work is grammatically correct and error free. But no matter what field you work in, writing is unavoidable. Think of all the emails, reports, and performance reviews written each day. If you are making common writing mistakes, your peers have most likely taken note. A report or email filled with avoidable writing mistakes is seen as unprofessional and careless. Many of the mistakes you are making, you might not even be aware of. Review this list and cut these errors out of your business writing:
- “Here’s some”: This is a fairly common phrase, as in, “Here’s some tips on how to beat writer’s block.” This is incorrect because “here’s” means “here is.” The correct version is “Here are some…” because you are referring to multiple tips.
- There, their, and they’re : Confusing these three words is still a common mistake, even in PR. There is a place, their shows possession, and they’re is short for they are. This is an error that most people will notice right away in your writing so be mindful when choosing the correct word.
- Long-winded sentences: Aim to write like Hemingway. People are busy, and they do not want to waste their time poring over complex and drawn-out sentences. Write short sentences and simple words that get right to the point and make your writing easy to understand.
- Stationery vs. stationary: These two words can be easily mixed up because they are pronounced the same, but they have different meanings. Stationery with an “e” is paper that you use for writing letters or notes and is something PR firms often design for their clients. Stationary with an “a” means not moving or fixed in one place.
- Buzzwords: PR writing is filled with buzzwords and jargon that puts a wall up between you and your readers and can confuse them. While it may sound professional, your readers most likely will not appreciate the lingo. Lose the buzzwords and write plainly and concisely.
- i.e. and e.g.: These two abbreviations are frequently used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. The first, i.e., is Latin for “id est,” which means “that is.” It is used to re-state an idea or fact for clarity for better understanding (think: “in other words”). The second, e.g., is short for “exempli gratia,” which means “for example.” It is used to indicate that what follows is a particular example of the generality just stated. Use i.e. to summarize and re-state and idea and e.g. to list examples.
If you eliminate these errors out of your business writing practices, you will be on a path to better writing in no time. Your reports and emails will be more professional, and your co-workers will stop nitpicking you.