As an instructor of English and Business Communications, I am always telling my students that there are certain things they need to do each and every time they write ANYTHING. Not that any of them listen, but I try. Repetition is the key when teaching new concepts to students of any age. Here is what I recommend:
- Use Spell Checker: It doesn’t matter what you are writing, use a spell checker. Word has one built right into it. Those funny-colored squiggly underlines are there for a reason, either a word is spelled incorrectly, or used incorrectly. You can also copy and paste text into a free on-line spell checker, just Google “free spell checker”.
- Use Grammar Checker: Word also has a grammar checker built into the spell-checker. Use it! It will tell you if it thinks a word is used incorrectly, if something is written in wrong tense, style, or voice, and many other things. All you do is set it up the way you want it under File > Options > Proofing. Or, you can copy and past your text into a free on-line grammar checker, just Google “free grammar checker”. Some internet programs will both spell and grammar check your work at the same time.
- Read Your Written Work Out Loud. If your words sound wrong when you read your writing out loud, then there is usually something wrong with the way it is written. This is also a great habit to get into if you are writing speeches.
- Dictionary.com: If you don’t know what a word means, look it up. If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, use dictionary.com’s pronunciation feature which actually uses audio to let know how to correctly say any word. We all have smartphones and internet access, use them to your advantage.
- Don’t Be Lazy: Don’t turn in or publish a first draft of your work. Take your time, organize your thoughts, spell check and grammar check your work, and write a second draft.
- Don’t use texting shortcuts in written documents. Just don’t do it. Please. Texting shortcuts are for texting only.
- Capitalization and Punctuation. Use proper capitalization for names and proper nouns, ALWAYS capitalize “I”, and always check your punctuation.