As writers, we tend to focus on developing the core idea of our articles. While doing so, we often ignore the important part – of making our writing presentable and easy to read.
Here are 9 simple tips for writing better articles. Remember, these aren’t hard and fast rules, but they will surely help you create a strong foundation to work up from.
1. Use Grammarly
Good grammar forms the basis of good communication. Even if the core idea of your article is good, the message you are trying to put across must be conveyed in an error-free manner.
When it comes to editing your articles on the go, it’s impossible to adhere to all the subtleties of grammatical standards.
To simplify this process, you can use Grammarly. Their online tool points out errors in your writing as you type and allows you to make changes on the spot. It’s a fantastic tool to get common typos and grammatical errors out of the way.
You can check out Grammarly here.
2. Paragraphs are your friends
Many writers dump their text into one huge paragraph. This discourages readers because it’s harder for them to keep track of where they are while reading.
Paragraphs are designed to make reading easier. It’s a good practice to have many paragraphs, chunked logically in your article. These shouldn’t exceed 10 lines each.
3. Long sentences make for boring reads
Sometimes, we end up writing very long sentences that go way beyond 20 words and put the reader into a state of confusion wherein they are hard-pressed to go back and try to read the sentence again in order to understand where you were trying to go with what you were saying.
Really bad, right?
Try keeping most of your sentences below 20 words each and you should be fine.
4. Substitute long or difficult words with simpler ones
Long and less-known words make for slow reads. Unless it is absolutely necessary for you to use a difficult word, you should always be sticking to the simpler ones.
5. Find synonyms for phrases
Instead of saying, “It was a roof made of straw laid out evenly,” you can just say, “It was a thatched roof”.
It’s easy to search for synonyms online and figure out if they fit within the context. As long as the synonym isn’t difficult and does a good job of replacing your long phrase, you can be sure that your readers will appreciate it.
6. Show, don’t tell
An age-old advice that many writers ignore. As writers, we visualize many ideas and scenes from our stories, but our readers may not share the same vision. It is important for us to paint a picture for them.
Telling: “She was afraid of what would happen next.”
Showing: “Her hands started trembling and she held the chair for support. What next? she thought.”
Isn’t it much better already?
Showing allows us to establish character traits and define our setting without having to write lengthy descriptions.
7. Don’t start consecutive sentences with the same word
When many consecutive sentences start with the same word, it makes for a monotonous read. This happens when we’re describing something that a person is doing. She walked…she sat down…she opened her phone…she texted her friend…
Sentences like these make reading annoying. Try mixing things up by using people’s names or by changing the voice of sentences. This article gives an unbiased breakdown of the active and passive voice and when to use either of them.
Remember: Active voice isn’t always “better”!
8. Formatting always helps
Most readers want to skim through an article. It’s only natural for them to do so. Maybe they’re looking for a quick summary or they want to get the gist before they decide to dive in.
Keeping your article formatted is the first step to ensuring that it is read. Bold, italics and underlines are your best friends.
Some formatting tips:
– Try not to make entire sentences bold. Go for the important words in sentences
– Italics should be used when,
(a) showing somebody’s thoughts,
(b) indicating that a particular word needs to be stressed while reading,
(c) pointing out sarcasm or irony without making it explicit or
(d) while giving examples
– Use underlines to emphasize links or critical points, if necessary
9. Line spacing matters and so do good fonts
Remember to space out your lines to above 1.5 before sharing your article and asking for feedback. It makes for easy reading.
While you’re at it, switch to a pleasant font with a size greater than 12. Your readers will thank you for it.
Calibri, Helvetica, Open Sans, Montserrat, Roboto are some of the best fonts out there.
So, there you go! These are the 9 writing tips that will help you write better articles.
Are there other tips you can think of? Did you discover something new?