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Resolve to #WriteBetter: Writing for Different Formats

playing_with_letter_clothespinIt’s the end of January, which means you’ve already lost your holiday weight (and more) by sticking to your New Years’ resolution, right?

Don’t worry if you’ve fallen off the wagon – we won’t judge you. But we WILL judge you by your writing! In particular, because this month we have given you the resources you need to #WriteBetter.

We’ve outlined our top five writing pet peeves and our top five style secrets. In our third and final post this month, we have some tips on how you can write well for different formats.

Today, we are equipped with more communications channels than ever before. It can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Just lift your head out from under that snowstorm of tweets, texts, e-mails, blog posts, short articles, long articles, slideshows, photo captions, and status updates, and use these tips as a guide.

1. Tweets: A lot of people are nervous about getting started on Twitter, because they aren’t sure how it works. Just like eating an apple, we suggest you start by tweeting once a day, every day, and go from there.

A good tweet has four components: a link to an interesting news article or website; a short intro to the article that gives it context and intrigues your followers to click; a mention of another user related to the article (often the writer or the publication); a hashtag (#) that expresses something about the article or connects it to a larger trend.

We’re sticklers when it comes to correct grammar in traditional formats. On Twitter, though, because of space limitations, we think it’s acceptable to abbreviate words that are less important. We still suggest you avoid abbreviations when tweeting, unless absolutely necessary.

2. Status updates: Updating Facebook or LinkedIn to share company news? Complete sentences and correct grammar are a must. We suggest you include a link to make an update more interactive. Come up with two to five sentences about the topic and end with a question that will encourage dialogue.

3. E-mails: Read them over before you press send! Make sure that what you’ve written can’t be misinterpreted by your recipient. Be clear, polite, and to the point.

4. Blog posts: Blog posts shouldn’t exceed 300 to 400 words. They are meant to be digested in a single sitting, like a snack. Your tone should be engaging and conversational.

5. Articles: If you’re writing an article for an outside publication, whether print or online, get editorial guidelines from the publication before you start writing. Let these govern the article’s style and parameters. Each publication is different, and you’ll want to make sure you’ve tailored your piece to its audience and its needs.

Have a great 2014, and write on!

Posted by Beth Connolly

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