Your expertise may be in accounting, coaching, or sales, but if your grammar is grating, your punctuation is poor, and your spelling is strange, people will wonder if you really know your stuff.

Here is a list of seven common challenges and solutions:

ONE: Spell Check is not always right. Think of Spell Check like someone checking in, “Excuse me. Are you sure you meant to use it’s instead of its?” It doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It means you may want to double-check with someone or search the internet for your answer. There are lots of helpful writers and editing addicts out there aching to show you the way.

TWO: Speaking of it’s and it… It’s stands for it is, so “It’s there on the desk.”
Its means it belongs to something, like “The store reduced its price on bananas.”

THREE: There is my pencil. It is a location
They’re walking to work together. Short for they are.
Their mother is a smart woman. Possessive.

FOUR: An effect is a result. It is a noun, a thing. The effect of the ban on smoking was that fewer children had asthma attacks.
Affect is a verb, an action word. His talk on staying healthy really affected me, so I am going to eat more greens.

FIVE: Spell out all abbreviations.
I am the New Brunswick Chapter Chair for the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD).

SIX: Avoid jargon or at least explain it.
I just taught a workshop on instructional design, helping trainers develop training plans for next month’s workshops.

SEVEN: A quick formatting tip: White space is your friend. The more white space, the more likely someone is to read your message or handout.

BONUS: OKAY, THIS ONE ANNOYS ME WAY TOO MUCH TO NOT SAY IT. Please control all urges to write in all caps. A headline is fine. Numbering is fine. WRITING IN ALL CAPS IS LIKE SHOUTING AT SOMEONE AND IS RUDE. If you disagree, you can join the debate here. But trust me on this one 🙂

If you are not comfortable writing, have someone check your work or hire a writer. You will look like the expert you really are.

What writing challenge or pet peeve do you have?

WARNING Blatant Self Promotion: We offer a series of writing and speaking training for business leaders and entrepreneurs. Click here for more info.


  1. Francene Stanley on January 24, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Good basic grammar issues alway make a blog more readable. The point about whits space is very valid. I don’t think I use enough.

  2. Rose Poirier on January 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I’ve referred my Business Communications students to your website, Catherine. Told them I agreed with your writing tips. Thank you for providing an easy-to-read resource!

  3. Mark A. Michael on January 24, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I guess I am doing better than I think. It’s great to know there is hope for us that haven’t had an english class in many, mnay years.

    How about when to use “a” vs. “an”?

  4. seo letchworth on October 5, 2014 at 6:46 am

    Hello I am so glad I found your bloig page, I really found you by accident, while I was ressearching on Digg for something else, Anyways I am here now
    and would just like to say thanks for a remarkable post and a all round entertaining blog (I also
    love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the moent but I ave bookmarked it and
    alo added in your RSS feeds, so whdn I have time
    I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the awesome jo.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge