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Net Writing - Part 2

Internet Writing

The internet has created innumerable opportunities to write and share with the world your thoughts and ideas. Anyone is able to get a free blog and start writing. These are some simple tips to improve your writing for an internet audience.

Good Writing Style

Good writing will work well on internet and the printed page. For any writing medium it is worth following these basic rules of good writing.

  • Use the basic rules of grammar and punctuation to improve ease of reading – and avoid irritating grammar pedants
  • Write with a clear focus.
  • Good writing should be simple and clear.  Where possible use an economy of words.
    • Avoid unnecessary words.
    • Avoid cumbersome and oblique words which may be confusing or sound pretentious.
    • Avoid repetition of words which can become boring and confusing.
  • Generally it is advisable to write in the active tense rather than the passive.
  • Don’t assume average internet reader knows technical terms. Take time to explain concepts which may not be known.

Other Internet Writing Techniques

  • Make a document easy to scan. Give clear subheadings where appropriate. Writing in bullet point form may not be good English style, but, for many aspects of internet writing, works quite well.
  • The Internet can magnify anything you write. It is easy to forget that anything you write on the internet could end up being permanent and read by millions of people. Be very careful before writing anything critical or personally embarrassing. As a good rule of thumb – before posting anything make sure you would be happy for anyone in your life to read it.
  • Something New. There is so much writing on the internet there is always a danger of simply regurgitating something already published. Make sure your writing has some added value and not just going around in circles.

Related

Internet Withdrawal Symptoms

Turning off mobile phones, avoiding the internet and tuning out of the television and radio can leave people suffering from symptoms similar to those seen in drug addicts trying to go cold turkey, researchers have found.

- Report at Daily Telegraph

Related

Internet addiction help
10 Stupid Things we do on internet
How to spend less time and achieve more on internet

When To Use A Capital Letter

Capital Letters should be use in the following situations.

  1. At the start of a sentence. I should improve my grammar.
  2. To indicate proper nouns (names or places). My teacher, Mr Wood, came from The Palace of Westminster.
  3. Adjectives of proper nouns. I began to learn German, English, physics, and science.
  4. Major words in the title of a book, play, movie. The Sound of Music was a very successful movie. (note, some librarians prefer not to capitalise titles of books; e.g,  – The taming of the shrew)
  5. Abbreviations - BBC, IBM, TUC
  6. Trade Names. Marmite, Heinz and Nescafe are frequently found in the kitchen.
  7. Titles of events. The First World War, World War Two.
  8. Governments. The French Government was mired in another corruption scandal.
  9. Religious Use. Words to represent religious festivals or important religious concepts. E.g. My Lord, the Prophet of Islam, God, the feast of Passover.
  10. The Pronoun I. I would love to know who I really am.
  11. Historical Periods, but not for centuries. The Renaissance. The Romantic period, Roman era, twentieth century.

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Difference Between British English and American English

Apart from about 2,000 miles. and the fact British English was invented first, there are several minor differences.

American English owes much to the Webster Dictionary – An American Dictionary of the English Language. (1828)

In 1755, Samuel Johnson published his Dictionary of the English Language. This was one of the first formal attempts to categorise English spelling. However, Webster didn’t approve of Johnson’s efforts. In particular he didn’t like certain varieties of Johnson’s spelling. Webster didn’t like words which weren’t spelt (or spelled which is more common in US) the way they were pronounced.

Thus Webster removed many letters like the silent u. So in American English we get

  • Favor
  • Color
  • Humor

rather than the British version favour, colour, and humour.

  • He also changed centre to center. Theatre, to theater.

Unnecessary endings were also dropped.

  • analogue (GB)  becomes analog (US)

There are also other differences. For example, Americans tend to add on l in words like travelled.

  • US – traveled.
  • GB – travelled.

In the mid Nineteenth Century, American English was close to British English in terms of accent and words used. However, the widespread immigration to American inevitably led to a widening of the difference between the two versions of English. New words became part of every day use.

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List of Common Misspelt Words

  • acceptable
  • accidentally
  • accommodate
  • acquire
  • acquit
  • advice (noun)
  • advise (verb) – I advise you to keep your advice to yourself.
  • a lot
  • amateur
  • apparent
  • archaeology
  • argument
  • avocado
  • believe
  • broccoli
  • calendar
  • caribbean
  • cemetery
  • changeable
  • collectible
  • colossal
  • committed Continue reading →

Common Mistakes in Your Writing

  1. Spelling mistakes. Use a spell checker when writing. It is also helpful to use the Mozilla Firefox inline spell checker which will help catch errors if you write directly into your blog. There is no excuse for not using a spell checker which will help catch 85% of spelling mistakes. However, don’t forget that you still need to check because the spell checker can still miss words not used correctly. See: humorous example of spell chequer
  2. Grammar Mistakes. Avoid common errors such as confusing their and there. You’re and your. If you are uncertain, take time to learn these rules, the effort will pay you back through helping you to look more professional. See: 5 Grammar Mistakes to avoid
  3. Punctuation Mistakes. The comma can be tricky. How to use the comma these are the main useage of the comma. Punctuation mistakes to Avoid
  4. Unnecessary words. Avoid unnecessary adjectives.
    • He was sprinting very fast – If you are sprinting by definition, you are going very quickly.
    • It is equally superfluous to say the “wet rain.” – It is rare that water is dry…
  5. Repetition. Some repetition can create emphasis. But, generally, you want to avoid repeating yourself. If you have made a point, don’t keep making it in the same manner.
  6. Lack of Clarity. Good writing is simple and to the point. If a word can be left out without altering the meaning, then do it.
    • BAD: I think that, on reflection, the new version of the English dictionary is mostly, quite a fascinating version. However, I am not entirely certain that it will be well liked by young generation, who generally seem not particularly interested in changes in the usage of English language.
    • WHAT YOU MEAN: The new English Dictionary is fascinating. But, the younger generation will probably not be interested
  7. Repetition of words. It is considered bad practice to keep repeating the same word. In this example, using the word general 3 times creates an unpleasant effect. You should avoid this overuse.
    • BAD: Generally, the comma is misused. In general everyday use, the comma splice often creeps into people’s writing. Generally, I think people should try to learn how to use a comma.
    • GOOD: In many situations, the comma is misused. In general everyday use, the comma splice often creeps into people’s writing. Arguably, people should give much more importance to using the comma.
  8. Moralistic. Do we need the moralistic second sentence? It is usually unnecessary to condemn other people. It is sufficient to point out the error.
    • x made the mistake of using uncopyrighted images. This is shameful and shows his contempt for basic human decency. Photographers should always be given credit
    • x made the mistake of using uncopyrighted images. Photographers should always be given credit Continue reading →

Confusing Words Explained

Affect and Effect.

  • What is the effect of higher taxes? How do higher taxes affect yourself?

There, their, and they’re.

  • The place is over there. (refers to place)
  • Their journey was long and arduous. (refers to person)
  • They’re going to be happy the bus was on time. (short for They are)

You’re , Your

  • You’re not going to believe this. (short for you are)
  • Your wallet was stolen (wallet belonging to you)

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Embarassing Email Blunders

You have to be very careful when using email. There are a few easy ways to make embarassing blunders.

Reply CC

You get an email from a friend. By mistake you reply CC rather than reply To. You make a very private comments about a third party, not realising you have sent the message to them. Always be very careful when using CC. It means everyone gets a copy.

Forwarding Embarassing stuff.

An email may contain several replies and message. If you forward this email onto someone, you my forward comments from someone else to people they never intended to read that message. When forwarding always check to bottom of email and all replies and to. Best practise is to delete it.

Autofill Email Address

You have a boss called john_tucket. You have a boyfriend called john_trader. It is an easy mistake to autofill the wrong p erson. Before you know it you have sent your romantic thoughts to your boss, and your willingness to do overtime to your boyfriend.

Regret

Email is so easy. You can fire off a few quick sarcastic remarks, but then the next day you deeply regret sending off an email in the heat of the moment. You can’t retrieve email.

Examples

Forwarding Email without permission

In 2000, Claire Swires sent an email to her then boyfriend while working at the London law firm, Norton Rose. It was quite explicit. But, unbeknown to her, her boyfriend forwarded it on to ‘one or two friends’ who then forwarded it on to ‘one or two more friends’ Before you knew it, the email had been forwarded around the world.

A police officer who sent an email to her colleagues asking: “who stole my yoghurt out of the fridge? Unfortunately she accidentally sent the email to the entire state police force and received many a reply including…. “Do you need the FBI? Have you sealed off the area? Has the dog unit been called?”

Books on Writing Emails

Related

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Rules for Using the Comma

When should you use a comma?

These simple rules may help.

Common Sense

To make it clear what you are referring to.

  • My beloved honey is over there.
  • My beloved, honey is over there.

And perhaps the most famous:

  • A Panda came into the bar. He eats shoots and leaves
  • A Panda came into the bar. He eats, shoots and leaves.

The second sentence could have involved a dead bear. The first sentence suggests the Panda eats shoots and leaves.

Lists.

  • I would like to buy, books, chocolate, clothes, a new car and a Rolex watch.
  • There are several countries in the Euro, such as, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Germany.

In some academic publications there will be a comma before the last and.

  • There are several countries in the Euro, such as, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Germany.
  • This is known as the Oxford comma.

Sub Clauses.

  • With great reluctance, I decided to do my homework.
  • I am trying to learn the rules for using a comma, in order to improve my written English

Note: even without the sub clause there would still be a valid sentence

Before a Little Conjunction (and, but, yet, indeed, so) of two independent clauses.

  • I should have scored a century, but the bowling attack was very precise.

Non-Essential Clauses

  • My Economics teacher, who has a silly haircut, gave me far too much homework.

Dates

  • A comma should be used in giving full date.
  • Economics classes start on 7th September, 2010, in the Old Library.

Contrast

  • Global warming is increasing temperatures around the world, yet England is getting colder.
  • She was very attractive, but vain.

Should you use a comma before and?

  • In a list it is not necessary. For example, the UK Eurovision song got nil points from France, Sweden and Portugal.

However, it can be helpful in complicated lists:

  • I buy food from Tesco, Morrisons, Marks and Spencers, and the Co-op. This helps show Marks and Spencer is just one item in the list.

A comma should be used for two distinct clauses.

  • He went to get the bus, and the weather was cloudy again.

When Not to Use the Comma.

Two Adjectives that would not make sense with and between

  • He only had a tiny cutting knife. (It wouldn’t make sense to say – He only had a tiny and cutting knife.)
  • My grandmother is a little old lady, but very fiery.

Comma Splice
This occurs when a comma is used for two independent phrases which would be better with fullstop or semi-colon.

  • He went to catch the bus, the weather was dull and grey.

This could be corrected by:

  • He went to catch the bus. The weather was dull and grey.
  • He went to catch the bus; the weather was dull and grey.
  • He went to catch the bus, and the weather was dull and grey.

Books on Using The Comma

Book Cover

Book Cover

Related

Quick Tips for Better Blog Posts.

  • Make sure keyword is going to be searched. Best length is often three of four words. ‘Newspaper Headlines’ may be more fun, but, they won’t attract much search. Use Google suggest for ideas.
  • Make sure the post has long term value. e.g. will people be searching for it next year?
  • Have a quick way of adding affiliate links. e.g. just copy an Amazon link and replace the search term.
  • At end of post, where do you want visitor to go next? Generally offering 2-3 related posts, helps keep them on the site and offers a more detailed post. Have to hand your best posts, so you can send first time visitors to your best posts.
  • If relevant include 1-3 relevant external links, these should be chosen for high relevance from quality sites. e.g. don’t link to home page of BBC, but, to an article offering more information.
  • In a competitive market, Google are increasingly weighting longer, more useful posts higher than short posts. Does your post offer something new or is it rehashing something you can find in a better form elsewhere on internet?
  • It is better to have one excellent post than several ‘average posts’

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