I could proofread this post a hundred times, and there would still be a typo in it. Please leave me a comment pointing out the typo, and we can snigger about the joyful irony together ☺️.
Me + Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar = It’s Complicated
Do you remember being taught spelling, punctuation and grammar (let’s call it “SPAG”) at school?
I remember spelling tests; being given an old, smelly tobacco tin containing word cards to learn for a test the following day. But, that is all I remember. Nobody told me where to place an apostrophe. Or indeed, how commas save lives... Case in point: “let’s eat grandma” versus “let’s eat, grandma”.
Thankfully, I’ve always had a good command of the English language due to my voracious appetite for reading.
But here’s the truth: I spent over ten years in proper, adult, client-facing jobs, not knowing certain basic SPAG rules. It makes me cringe to think about people receiving correspondence, signed by me, littered with punctuation mistakes (or rather a complete lack of punctuation - when in doubt, miss it out!)
And then I decided to retrain as a teacher. A “steep learning curve” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Surprisingly, nobody asked me about my SPAG skills in the interview (so it’s not like I lied or anything… ahem!) But the reality was that I’d soon be marking students’ work, and it was MY ACTUAL JOB to help them develop their SPAG.
So, I got on with learning the stuff I should have learned (or paid attention to) at school. Fast. Now, I am a SPAG superhero.
What’s Your Superpower?
Once you know your SPAG, punctuation in particular, it’s like… a revelation. It’s like having a superpower. Seriously, I can spot a misplaced apostrophe from miles away. My husband has, on occasion, had to physically restrain me from correcting signs on buildings and in shops...
Oh yes, being a SPAG superhero means you are allowed to carry a red pen with you at all times and deface public property in the name of, well, SPAG.
Joking aside, what’s all this got to do with blogging?
SPAG and Blogging
So, does it matter? Is it OK to make lots of errors in your blog posts?
Yes, it matters. You should care about quality. If you were a musician, you’d practice and continually study the technical aspects of your communication method/art, wouldn’t you? How is writing any different?
I’m not saying your work needs to be perfect. Far from it. My writing is not perfect, and you will find typos. It happens.
But you need to care and try your hardest when it comes to SPAG.
Focus on the Reader
If you focus on the reader experience, you realise how important SPAG is. If a chunk of text is not broken up by paragraph breaks, full stops and commas, and it includes misspelt words, it is going to be hard to understand.
Today’s blog reader is spoilt for choice when it comes to reading material.
SPAG is about readability. Make life easy for your reader, and they will come back for more.
How Can I Improve?
Here are my top five tips for improving the quality of your blog posts.
- Go back to basics - there is no shame in needing a refresher in SPAG. Quite the opposite. Think of it as a quest for quality (you are a superhero in training, after all). I’ll recommend some books to help you in the “recommendations” section below.
- Proofread your posts several times - once for spellings, once for punctuation and once for flow (in other words, does your writing make sense?) Also, ensure you have at least one delayed proofread. Leave your work for 24 hours before you hit publish.
- Use simple language, short sentences and short paragraphs - this will make your writing easier to read. Cut the waffle.
- Hire some help - proofreading and editing your own work is difficult. Sometimes, you just need a second pair of eyes. Hiring help is not as expensive as you’d think.
- Use Grammarly - it’s an amazing tool. It’s not going to solve all of your SPAG problems, but it’s really going to help. Here's a link: Grammarly.