I don’t write for a living yet, but I still try to write like my life depends on it. If you’re a student, in business or a pro blogger, you may feel the same way. Your future life may depend on how well you write.
One of the most important things a writer can do to improve their writing, is to become a good editor. Writing well, is a result of what you take out of a post, as much as what you put into it. You’ll need to take out the spelling errors, grammar errors, and the clutter.
The spelling errors are the easiest to remove. Spell checkers are built into most writing tools and are even embedded in the some web browsers. For anyone using a computer, there is no good excuse for misspelled words.
Proof-reading your text for grammar and readability is much harder. Fortunately there are many online resources for writers. Below are two online checkers that may help you improve by showing you weak points in your readability or grammar.
If you’ve used Microsoft Word, you might be familiar with it’s readability statistics. It gives a quick test score called the Flesch-Kincaid (FK) Grade Level. The FK score tells you what U.S. grade school level is needed to fully understand your writing. Generally, a score close to 7 (7th grade) is recommended for general audiences.
I’ve found a great site that gives your text not only an FK level, but plenty of other information as well. It’s called ADDEDBYTES – Check Text Readability.
Here’s a screen-shot of the results from the first three paragraphs of this article. I think I did pretty well.
There are several scores shown here. Most of them don’t make much sense unless you study what they mean. There are links next to each score that lead to more information if you are interested.
I pay the most attention to the Average Grade Leveland the SMOG index. The average grade is pretty understandable, since it’s simply the average of the scores shown. The SMOG index tells you how much gobbledygook you have included in your post. Gobbledygook is words that are used only in special cases, such as political speeches and scientific or technical papers. These are words that most people don’t understand. I try to keep the SMOG below 6 by using common words that everyone knows.
Recently, I told one of my fellow bloggers that their post was too lofty. New writers are always tempted to show off by using long sentences and lots of fancy words. I asked another blogger if they were writing poetry or writing a software review. A light punch in the belly will usually wake people up.
Good writers impress people with humor or great ideas, not fancy speech. Write to your readers like you are talking to a good friend.
Another site I found recently, checks your text for mistakes in grammar. I’ve never found a tool that catches most grammar mistakes, so don’t be disappointed when you discover the same thing.
Language Tool will catch the obvious grammar errors, but it will also generate plenty of false errors. Computers are still only as smart as an insect at this time, so I’m not surprised. Humans rule, and only an experienced editor will catch most grammar problems.
Here’s an example of the results from the Language Tool.
In this case, it found three errors, yet only one of them was a real error. Despite the false errors, if you need help finding grammar mistakes, the Language Tooloffers you a chance to find the most obvious problems.
Hearing your written words read out loud is an easy way to catch errors of all kinds. Try to find a friend who can read your writing back to you. If you are on your own, read it out loud to yourself. My wife mentioned that it might be good to have a text-to-speech tool read your post to you.
Thanks for reading this long post. If it helps at least one person write better, I’ll be happy.