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Bad Spelling and Grammar Can Ruin Your Publication

written by: Amber Neely•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 4/16/2012

If you're trying to get something you've written published, or if you're going to start self-publishing something you've written, it's time you start thinking about the importance of spelling, proper grammar, and proper word usage. Here are some tips for properly publishing your work!

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    Using proper spelling and grammar is one of the most crucial things you can do when writing, be it in an email, on a website, or in something you're looking to get published - especially something you're looking to get published! Using words incorrectly, using sentences with poor structure, or misspelling words can ruin your chances of becoming published, as well as affecting your credibility. Or if you're going the route of self publishing, it can ruin your chances of anyone purchasing your publication if they are faced with a ton on spelling mistakes in the preview.

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    Proper Spelling

    Dictionary Some people take the importance of spelling for granted. In a time where over one billion text messages are sent every week, spelling has suffered to laziness, ignorance, and to the dreaded shorthand for speediness sake. While these things might be acceptable within a text message to friends and family, they have no place within any kind of publication. We're going to assume that you're going to want people to be able to read and understand what you're writing, so of course you're going to want to be as clear as possible.

    Always type out complete words and avoid unnecessary shorthand when possible. And of course, let's not forget about spell checking. When you really think about it, there's no excuse for poor spelling these days! With the advent of word processors, a built-in browser spell check, and the mind-boggling amount of online dictionaries, makes it easier and easier to make sure every word is spelled correctly in every sentence you type.

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    Correct Grammar & Word Usage

    Books The dictionary defines grammar as a branch of linguistics that deals with the syntax and structure of language; the set of rules we attempt to follow to provide information, thoughts, opinions, and feelings to other people. Essentially, grammar makes up a large part of how we communicate, and so knowing the basic rules of grammar becomes absolutely critical when you're trying to get something published. After all, you want people to understand your content, right? Besides, if a publisher or a potential reader picks up your publication and realizes they can't understand anything you've written, you can expect not to get very far! Here are a few tips that should help you out.

    • For informational texts, don't assume that you should automatically try to explain everything with the most complex words you know. If you're aiming to teach your audience, sometimes being clear and concise is far more important than dazzling people with your large vocabulary.
    • If you don't speak the language you're writing in natively, you should have someone who speaks the language proof-read your work. Remember, you shouldn't feel bad if they begin making corrections - after all, they're helping you to communicate in a clear, natural way.
    • If you don't know exactly what a word means, think about using a different word or spend some time looking it up in an online dictionary. When I used to proofread content for websites I would frequently come across words that felt clunky or awkward in the middle of a sentence. It turns out that people frequently will misuse a word, assuming they know what it means when it really doesn't fit the context of the sentence at all.
    • If you're like me and you worry that you may overuse adjectives when describing things within your writing, then checking out an online thesaurus is your best bet. A thesaurus will provide you with alternatives, so instead of repeatedly using an image like "amazing" you can fall back on fascinating, incredible, stunning, and wonderful!
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    Proper Punctuation

    Pause for Thought  Punctuation is another surprisingly tricky thing to deal with when writing. Sure, most of us know when to use a period, question mark, or exclamation point -- we're great at ending sentences -- but when it comes to middle of the sentence some of us get tripped up a little bit. One of my favorite examples about properly using punctuation was one that my mom shared with me years ago. It talks about the importance of using commas in sentences to convey a thought properly. Take a look at these two examples:

    Let's eat Grandpa!

    Let's eat, Grandpa!

    As you can see, the first example seems to imply something a bit disturbing, such as eating your grandfather for dinner. The second sentence, however, implies that you would like your grandfather to sit down at the dinner table with you. The addition of a simple comma prevents the sentence from coming off as a strange and somewhat confusing thought, and instead conveys a somewhat heartwarming statement. It's a good way to remember the importance of using proper punctuation when you're writing.

    Looking for more tips and advice? Check out the other articles in Bright Hub's guide, What You Need to Know About Self Publishing.

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