With the advent of technology, the internet and social media have developed their own acronyms. From simple ones like TC (take care) to lengthy ones like ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing), SMS languages have filled social media pages. Even for friends on Facebook, we use HBD rather than Happy Birthday. Grammar and punctuation are widely discarded. But the case is different for blogs and professional products. Here we will see how grammar and punctuation plays a crucial role in user experience and content writing.
More than 90% of any website content is comprised of typography. This was true in the past, and will continue to be so. The readability of a website improves dramatically when content designers emphasize user-engaging content. Content is the driving force that determines user experience. Pictures play their roles, but it is always words that give the required information.
Read on to discover how punctuation marks improve your content. We will touch upon basic punctuations like commas, full stops, and colons. In addition, we will discuss ampersands, dashes and use of capital letters.
A comma in the wrong place can completely change the meaning of a sentence. You may have heard a story in which a comma saved the life of a prisoner. The judge had to pass the verdict in writing. He wrote, “Kill him not, free him”. The judgment was supposed to be - Kill him, not free him. The change in position of a comma reversed the meaning of the sentence. This may be just a story, but it highlights the importance of a comma.
The comma is used mostly in complex sentences. It separates independent clauses. For example; it rained yesterday, but it is still hot. Commas also separate items in a list.
These are used at the end of each sentence. They are also used after abbreviations such as Dr. Mr. etc.
Colon and semi colons
Colons are used before quotations. For example, APJ Abdul Kalam said: Dream, dream, dream. Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts into actions". They are also used to connect two sentences, or when representing time, as in 6:30.
Semi colons are used to connect independent clauses that are closely connected. They are also used in a list when some items already have a comma. For example: big, red apples; oranges; and grapes.
An ampersand is a symbol (&) meaning “and”, originating from “œet”. Et in Latin means and. The meaning may already be known to us, but you may not know it’s correct usage.
Ampersands should not be used in sentences. They look awkward and unnatural this way - but they look good in headings and titles. Consider this article title as an example.
Lowercase & Uppercase
The capital letter is always used to start a sentence. They are also used when representing people such as God, Trump, etc. It plays a crucial role in user experience.
Headings use upper case. Rather than being a formality, it gives an improved reading experience. Headings are used to summarize the content that follows. A title can make the user decide to read on or skip the section, so it should be given importance.
Upper case letters are only used in abbreviations and sentence beginnings, as in the case of USA, UN etc. These are better used in short words. Using uppercase hinders readability. As all letters have the same height in upper case, it becomes slightly difficult to distinguish between them. Lower case letters are the most widely used.
The purpose of hyphens is to link words together. For example: off-campus recruitment.
They are also used in expressing estimates. For example: The rain will continue for 2-3 days. The Second World War was from 1939-1945.
In the case of spelled out fractions, hyphens are used: as in the case of one-third, three-fourths, etc.
Search Engine Optimizing
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a familiar phrase among content writers. Assigning proper keywords and maintaining the keyword density ensures your content is not missed out by search engines. Equally important is the structuring of your data.
The language shouldn’t be so complex. People prefer short, crisp sentences to complex ones. An ideal sentence should be less than 20 words. Transition words like but, although, etc. add more acceptability to articles. There are many SEO tools available online to ensure your content is good, so do some looking around before publishing.
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There is a tool called Flesch Reading Ease Measure. It ranges from 0-100. The higher the measure, the easier will be your content to understand. A range from 60-70 is considered ideal for web content.
The use of passive voice is discouraged in content writing because it lacks clarity. Consider the following sentences:
Every post is cross-checked before publishing.
The admin cross-checks all posts before publishing.
The second sentence is in active voice and it gives more clarity to the idea being expressed. Therefore, the use of passive voice is to be avoided whenever possible.
Don’t give too much importance to SEO. Never fill your articles with keywords for the sake of search engine ranking. They should be natural and the use of keywords should not hinder user experience. After all, you are writing for users and not for search engines.
Improve UX by proper writing
The style of writing varies depending on the intended audience. A research article will be drastically different from an editorial. The former will contain a lot of technical terms that may be difficult for the layman to understand. Keep your audience in mind, and write accordingly.
How can you make sure readers are engaged with your content? Visual triggers are a great help. Use bolds and italics in your articles to retain the attention of the audience. Bold text naturally draws the eye of readers. It can be used to stress important points and keywords, but make sure to not clutter the content with too much of it.
The conversational style is a widely used persuasive technique. By using inclusive words like we, you, us, etc. the reader is more engaged.
Ensure proper flow of information. You should have a clear idea about what to convey to the readers. Structure the content by using proper headings, and remember that short paragraphs are always preferred over long ones. Choose what information is to be written first. Make sure to elicit all your points. Arrange data in increasing order of relevance.
Grammar is an indication of professionalism. What will customers think if the content on your website homepage has grammatical errors? Pay attention to grammar. Structure the content professionally to give users a lively, engaging experience.
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Tools for good writing
Many tools are available online that can aid you in good writing. Grammarly is a great tool, for instance. It can be installed as an add-on to Microsoft Word, or integrated into your web browser. The basic version is free, and it suggests the common errors that you make. It offers to correct each error with a single click. For solving advanced issues, you need to purchase a premium version.
We hope you have got an understanding on how punctuation and grammar are crucial for user experience. Engage your reader and use proper styles, utilize the tools available on the internet, and keep your focus on informing and persuading the audience.
Do you have any tips for great punctuation when writing? Let us know in the comments below.