Whether you are a student writing your 40-page thesis, posting on social media or coming up with good content for your company website: almost everyone occasionally revisits what is written after all that hard work. But what is it that occasionally makes your text read so sloppy or unprofessional? Is it pure enthusiasm or is it simply because of how well you used to study Dutch? Especially in times when physical contact should be minimised, it is important that you appear strong on paper and digitally. Perhaps the following tips can help you.
- Satisfiers and dissatisfiers
Just to throw around terms. Sloppiness such as a double 'de', minor grammatical errors and the well-known 'dt' will not only cause your reader(s) to think your text is inferior, but sometimes even to drop out. These are mistakes that, when they are not there, are also not taken into account in a review, while when they are there, someone can completely dislike your piece. This is what we call dissatisfiers.
- The spell checker
''I'll just do a quick spelling and grammar check over it, the deadline is soon.'' Nope, not enough! People who have written a long piece, done this automatic check and then read back their piece themselves may have experience with it. Well-written double sentences, for instance, you won't get out of it with this, as well as that small grammatical error. Therefore, read back your written piece very carefully afterwards and preferably have one or two others perform the same task.
- No jargon
People generally - especially in posts with commercial purposes - read your piece for the expertise it contains. Frequent use of jargon in the text can cause people to drop out quickly because of lack of clarity. When you do, do explain what it means.
- Unnecessary or extra obvious
A quick check at the bottom left of the screen to see if you're already at that 2000 words mark. If not, then insert the info (which wasn't really necessary) anyway. From 'very' to 'very much' and still use that bullet point that requires 5 commas. These are not ways to get your message across more clearly. Limit yourself to the essential and leave out parts that do not amount to what you have to say. This seems like a waste, but so is a jaded reader.
- Whoever says A must also say C
Whereas the topic you write about is often a source of enthusiasm for yourself, it may be something completely new to the reader. Therefore, be careful about making assumptions in the reader's knowledge. People should become wiser from your piece and not have to wonder afterwards what it was actually about. A good structure with introduction, middle section and conclusion can already do a lot to give structure to the writing not only for the reader but also for yourself.
- Your text in real life
Square eyes? Time to make your written piece tangible by printing it out. Read it out loud and make notes with a pen or pencil where you or others think it could be improved. Then put the piece away for 24 hours and continue the next day with the adjustments you made.
After reading this blog, it may have become clear that this is not a smaller version of 'Writing For Dummies' but a tool to limit yourself from making unnecessary mistakes. Therefore, don't let this destroy your creativity. Good luck with your writing!