Every day, we write college papers, blog posts, work documents, emails, and social media updates. Our writing represents who we are personally and professionally, so it’s worth it to hone your skills. Here are twenty-five tips to help you communicate better in text.
How to Get Started
1 Set writing goals.
Maybe you want to write a certain number of words per day or upgrade your vocabulary. You can’t reach a goal unless you have one, so write that goal down and work toward it.
2 Write in the morning.
For many people, writing comes easier right after a good night’s sleep. Grammarly’s research also shows early birds make fewer writing mistakes.
3 Get inspired by research.
Before you begin writing, do some reconnaissance reading. Take notes as you read up on your subject material. Ideas will form as you research.
If you often find yourself rambling on without a clear structure, start with an outline. Follow this simple, no-fail outlining process to organize yourself from the start.
How to Write Email and Other Professional Documents
5 Keep it brief
Brevity is important in professional communication. Respect your colleagues’ time by knowing exactly what you need to communicate before you begin writing so you can keep your message concise.
6 Don’t neglect context.
Does the person you’re communicating with have the same information and frame of reference you do? If not, make sure you provide context. You don’t have to give the entire backstory, just fill in the missing pieces so your message will be clear.
We believe in empowering everyone to communicate clearly, effectively, and confidently. We’re just getting started. https://t.co/KerzWLzbuG
— Grammarly (@Grammarly) March 14, 2018
7 Format your email properly.
8 Don’t email angry.
Yes, you might be irked at your colleague for dropping the ball on that project and making you look bad, but don’t send emails when you’re still fuming. If you must write when emotions are hot, do it offline. Walk away for at least twelve hours, then edit with a calm head.
9 Proofread thoroughly before you hit SEND.
Typos and grammar gaffes make you look bad. Scan your email and fix errors before you send it. You’ll look your best when your correspondence is mistake-free!
How to Write Naturally
10 Write like you talk. Within reason.
Your writing should sound natural and fluid. Unless you’re communicating in a more formal context, write as though you’re talking to a friend.
11 Don’t ramble.
We just said “Write like you talk”, but there’s a caveat—don’t ramble. Avoid winding twists and turns, and don’t use filler words such as like, really, and you know. Good writing should get to the point and avoid fluff.
12 Be a storyteller.
No matter what the message, we humans are drawn to stories. Consider Pixar’s guide.
—Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling
Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
— goodreads (@goodreads) March 4, 2018
13 Empathize with the reader.
Empathy can improve all kinds of writing, from fiction to content marketing to email outreach. Take the time put yourself in your reader’s place. Are you preaching to her, or are you engaging her by showing that you relate to her feelings and experiences?
14 Be fascinated in order to be fascinating.
The more interested you are about the subject you’re writing about, the more intrigued your readers will be with what you’ve written.
How to Clean Up Your Writing
15 Let your writing rest for a while and edit fresh.
Whenever possible, don’t edit just after you’ve finished writing. Come back after a break and review with fresh eyes. Even stepping away for a quick walk or a cup of coffee can help you shift gears from writer to editor.
16 Get rid of filler words and phrases.
When you edit, it’s time to cut the fluff. Every word needs a job, and those that aren’t pulling their weight have to go. Here’s our list of words and phrases you can eliminate right now.
17 Dump adverbs.
Get rid of most adverbs and use stronger verb choices instead. When you do, ran swiftly becomes darted and cried pitifully becomes wailed. Remember what Stephen King said: “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
18 Develop your comma mojo.
The comma is a misunderstood punctuation mark. There are a number of rules for proper comma usage, but if you study them, they’ll become second nature. Here’s a quick guide. And here’s another that lists the most common comma struggles and how to solve them.
19 Put everything in the right order.
We often write in the order that ideas and thoughts come to us, but that’s not always the best way to present the final product.
20 Read your writing out loud.
One of the best ways to find clumsy sentence structure is to read your writing aloud. If you stumble as you’re reading, take a look at the sentence you tripped over and see if you can clear it up.
21 Keep a list of mistakes you make often.
We all have our writing struggles. Make a list of your most frequent mistakes so you can easily find and eliminate them next time.
22 Enlist a friend to read your draft.
Sometimes a second pair of eyes can prove helpful. Just remember the mnemonic, TWYWALTR—in creative circles, it means Take What You Want And Leave The Rest. Give all the advice you receive your full consideration, but make your own choices in the end.
23 Get a hand from Grammarly.
Editing yourself is hard. Grammarly’s app can help you find all kinds of writing errors. Think of it as a helpful friend looking over your shoulder and saying, “Hey, that doesn’t seem quite right. Want to take another look?”
24 Keep reading, learning, and practicing.
Read about writing. (You’re here, so you’re off to a good start!) Read in general, and you’ll learn style and grammar by osmosis. And practice often. The best way to improve your writing is by doing it. Onward!