Website content – use proper words and grammar

February 3, 2017 by
grammar spelling content are important

As someone who does web content, I see some business and personal websites where something isn't right.

Either:
1) someone in the business without a good grasp of English wrote the content themselves
or:
2) they got the lowest bidder with the same or lower quality English to write something for them.

Why should it matter?

These companies and people probably don't realize their sites aren't well written.  When they aren't well written, they're less effective.

These sites can even reflect negatively on the company or person involved.  If someone is careless about their website, is their product or service any better?

Usually it's a grammatical mistake or a spelling error.

Or sometimes it's just unclear or awkward wording that's difficult to read and understand - maybe like too long a sentence.

It's more common than you might think.

Consider this from dumpaday.com:

"Grammar:
The difference between knowing your shit, and knowing you're shit."

Now I'm not what I would consider a grammar "nerd", but I think I know grammar and spelling pretty well.  They're important.

There are rules for these things, and it's okay to break the rules, once you know them.  But you have to know them first.

As one who does content, fiction, technical, memoir, and other forms of writing as well as editing, I break the rules when I think it appropriate for the material or the situation.  But I don't think many people know the rules today.

(BTW, if you notice, I have my own style.  When using quotation marks in my writing, I put any required punctuation after the mark unless it's an entire sentence or statement.  I also use two spaces between a period and the start of the next sentence.  It gives more white space on the page.  These are intentional, not errors.)

When I see something that's obviously misspelled or grammatically incorrect, it stands out like someone with a bloody nose where the blood has dripped all over their shirt.

Here are some examples I've seen.  Some are more egregious than others.

I've seen worse than what I present here, but I wasn't quick enough to save them at the time.  I won't name the "guilty" parties.

"Ardon" where it should have been "Arden" - someone actually misspelled the name of the town they were based in.

Used the word "you" which should have been "your"  - a manufacturer of HVAC systems

"People that play" - should have been who

"Me and my buddy went ..." should be I.

I've actually seen some such errors on writing websites, where you would think the writer should know how to spell or use proper grammar.

"without loosing the sight of" where it should have been losing.  - from a screenwriting site

"make them forget their reading a script" - should have been they're - from an article on a screenwriting page

"It doesn't matter weather you're writing" - should have been whether.

Some of these errors can be from word processors "correcting" what the writer enters, but usually the writer has entered something incorrect to cause that.

Word Processors are not perfect either.  One minor processor (everything is minor compared to Word these days, right?) even comes with a dictionary that has errors. For example, if you typed the word kidnapped, it flags it with the red underline as if it were spelled wrong.  But that spelling is correct.

That's where a proofreader or editor should come in.  One or both of these should be involved in any case.

Words and grammar can be important enough to make or make or break you when you have something important to say.  See me to know that you present your best face.

I left one grammatical/spelling error in here.  Can you find it?

1 Comment

  1. michael kohnle

    You repeated "make". but nice job, Jim; I enjoyed it and agree wholeheartedly.

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