3 Steps to Better Writing (and the tools to help!)

At this point, most people have come around to the idea that writing is an important and valuable skill. Although almost everyone has access to writing and self-publishing their own work, what sets you and your brand’s content apart as good writing?

Of course, writing isn’t a one-size-fits-all prescription. The way you write a news release will be different from the early Monday email you send your team, both of which will differ from the copy on social media posts and your website. Across all of those things, there are some things that you should keep in mind next time you sit down at a keyboard.

In writing well, consider the three C’s: Concise, Correct and Clear.

Concise

It’s no surprise that audience’s attention span is shrinking. Or, at least that’s the story the media touted for a while. The truth of the situation is that people are more selective about the media they consume and may often multi-task their content consumption.

Even if “snackable content” is no longer the driving force of the industry, it’s still important to be concise in your written communication. With the multimedia options available now, consider if part of your writing might be better told with a hyperlink or an embedded photo.

Have you ever considered your writing’s readability? Maybe you think you’re writing to your target audience but are missing your mark with a blog littered with jargon and overly complicated words.

There are a variety of different readability indexes and formulas to use to test your writing, but two of the most commonly used are the Flesch Reading Ease formula and the Gunning Fog Index. Both systems use the number of words, sentences and syllables to assign your writing a score.

Ideally, writing for universal comprehension should be at an 8th grade level or below.

Luckily, you don’t have to sit and count the number of words and syllables for everything you write now. There are a variety of online readability counters that will calculate for different formulas:

Correct

Sometimes a misplaced apostrophe is all a reader needs to leave a website and discount a brand entirely. While this is an extreme example, making sure your writing is error-free is worth the extra time it may take.

Plenty of people have done the legwork to get you most of the way there:

  • Commonly Misused Words

  • Grammarly – This free online copyeditor is also available in a premium version and a browser extension to check your writing wherever you’re doing it

  • Hemingway Editor – Another free digital copyeditor that offers a more creative backdrop for composing your thoughts when you really need to get those words out. Bonus: it will also calculate your text’s readability score!

Clear

Being concise and correct are both components of clear, effective writing.

What all writing comes down to in the end is whether or not you’re getting your message across. Whether its a call for donations, information about a new service or a pop culture poll, if your writing isn’t communicating effectively, then it’s not working for your brand.

More tools to help keep your writing concise, correct and clear:

  • Tone Analyzer – This tool analyzes the tone of text to see what kinds of emotions the writing is giving off, from anger and fear to confidence and joy.

  • Jargon Grader looks for specific jargon that may be making your writing inaccessible to a wider audience

  • Grammar Girl – A blog and podcast that probably has the answer to whatever grammar question you have.