doubledawnwriting

Advice for better writing and marketing

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Word Blunders: Effect or Affect?

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The battle for grammatically correct content seems to be never ending. Words we use in every day conversations stump us when we type them out for the screen.

The effect of these common blunders affect the character of our message.

Words that carry the same linguistic properties can stump even the most seasoned professional. In some instances, the meanings are quite close. Affect and effect are a perfect example, since their meanings are intertwined.

Affect: This word means to have an effect on something. Yes, really. No wonder we have trouble keeping these two straight. However, I can give you some help.

Affect can be used as a noun or a verb, but it usually involves emotion or some sort of change.

She was deeply affected by his eloquent poem.”

In the context of that sentence, affect clearly refers to an emotional stir. Affect can also refer to an influence or impact.

Roses affect her allergies.”

In this context, affect is implying the influence that the roses will have to someone with an allergy to them.

Effect: This word is most frequently describing a consequence. It’s the end result of some other action.

His reckless actions at the track had a big effect on his family.”

In the above example, it’s easy to see that effect is not referring to emotion, but the consequence of the deed.

The proposed changes are scheduled to take effect next month.”

In this case, effect is used to describe the anticipated result and its potential occurrence. Again, note the lack of emotional context. Effect usually has a sense of being solid or absolute, more factual than emotional.

Memory Aids

It’s all good and well to read and understand how each word is used. But when you’re on the spot, it can be tough to remember which one you need. Here’s a little help.

Affect = Affection. Affect is most commonly used in terms of emotion and influence. Since affection is an emotion, it’s a good word association to help clear your thoughts and bring you to the correct spelling.

Effect = End Result. An effect is usually something final. The end result or anticipated end result. When you are looking at your use of the word in writing, think about “special effects” used in movies to help you remember the spelling. A special effect is used to create a final onscreen result.

If all else fails…

If you still find yourself stuck for which word to use, by all means, use a synonym.

She was deeply moved by his eloquent poem.”

Roses aggravate her allergies.”

His reckless actions at the track had a big impact on his family.”

The proposed changes are scheduled to take place next month.”

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The #1 Must-Follow Rule for Online Content

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I recently googled the term “business writer” (or it could have been freelance business writer), and took a look at the top search result. What I found was a woman charging about $130 USD for a 500 word article. Curious about the quality and context of her material, I just had to take a peek at her portfolio.

The first sample I clicked on led me to a website for a client. In the first paragraph I found a glaring spelling error. Well, technically, I suppose it was a phonetic error. Instead of using the word past it was incorrectly written as passed.

The shock. The horror. But then again, the client published it and didn’t even notice. At least I assume the client didn’t notice. Which brings me to proofreading.

We’ve all been there. Myself included. Skimming a page too quickly and missing obvious mistakes. A writer friend of mine was honoured to have his article praised (and reposted) by a national organization. When he read the review along with his piece, he was horrified at the number of spelling mistakes.

Image is Everything

Well written copy separates the pros from the amateurs. Would you trust your finances to a banker that called you buddy or dude? Would you be comfortable with a doctor who smacked bubble gum loudly and wore pants that showed his underwear? Not likely.

The fact is, we have expectations of professionals. We expect them to conduct themselves to a higher standard. They should dress better, speak better and behave better than the average joe.

Translating this sense of authority and professionalism online starts with your content. Don’t let a silly spelling error lower the opinion of potential clients. Proofread!

How to Proofread Properly

  • Do Not rely on spell checker software. Personally, I never use it. I correct mistakes as I write and once again when I proofread. If you do use it, don’t assume everything is perfect. You still must read what you have written.
  • Do read your content on a large screen. Slowly. This can be tough, especially if you have spent a great deal of time and have the writing almost committed to memory. Unfortunately, if you skim your content too quickly, your eyes will glide right over the mistakes.
  • Do Not post it and forget it. Always, always, always read your content once it has been posted to your webpage. The change of perspective will make mistakes jump out at you.
  • Do read out loud if you can. Our minds work too quickly. It’s a fact. Reading out loud slows down the thinking pattern and forces the mind to accept or reject what we are seeing. Again, you might be surprised how easily you spot mistakes such as to/too, they’re/there/their and so on when you read out loud. Even though they all sound the same, your mind will find the error.

If you’ve hired a content writer, you still need to proofread the work. Silly mistakes, like the one mentioned at the beginning of this post, can easily be corrected. Professional doesn’t always mean perfect, so if need be, find a fresh set of eyes to do your proofreading for you.

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