Is your writing scaring away your prospects? With the rise of content marketing, writing and copyediting skills are becoming increasingly essential for all marketers. It’s widely acknowledged that it is important to make a good first impression, and for marketers often this first impression comes from written materials, whether in the form of website content, a blog post or an email.

There are many tricky aspects of the English language, so it’s not surprising that there is often confusion as to the correct usage of several grammar, spelling and punctuation rules. Here are a few of the most common mistakes we see:

Grammar

“I.e.” and “e.g.”

“E.g.” means “for example” and “i.e.” means “that is.” Here’s a good way to remember it (from GrammarGirl): “From now on, i.e., which starts with i, means ‘in other words,’ and e.g., which starts with e, means ‘for example.’ I = in other words. E= example.”

The correct way to use e.g. is when you are providing just a few examples of something:

  • I like trees (e.g., oaks and elms).

But if you want to provide a conclusive list you would use i.e. The use of i.e. means you’ve provided a complete list of the trees that you like, not just a few examples.

  • I like trees (i.e., live oaks, weeping willows, maples and elms).

Also, you do not italicize e.g. or i.e., and a comma does go after them even though your spell checker will more than likely want you to take it out.

Spelling

“Lose” versus “loose”

I want to lose a few pounds, not demonstrate that I’m free from restraint (i.e., loose).

“Definitely” versus “definitaly” or “definitealy”

There is no a in definitely – ever.

Punctuation

Proper spacing between sentences

The right number of spaces between sentences seems to be an ongoing debate, but there really are a correct number of spaces to put between sentences, and it’s only one. For the longest time, the norm was to put two spaces between every sentence. This was a holdover from the typewriter days when all of the characters were monospaced – that is each letter took up the exact amount of space no matter how wide it was so extra spacing was necessary to ensure things didn’t appear to run together.

Today, however, computer type is proportional so each character uses only the space it needs. For example, the letter i takes up about one-fifth of the space that m does. So you don’t need two spaces after each sentence to separate one from another. And, this one space rule does apply to all punctuation including colons, semicolons, quotation marks, etc.

For more common mistakes, as well as their correct usage, download the free eBook, A Writer’s Guidebook.

What are your biggest grammar, spelling or punctuation pet peeves? Let me know in the comments below!