8 Steps to Better Writing

8 Steps to Better Writing & Improving Your Writing Skills

8 Steps to Better Writing
Photo by Oliver Tacke

8 Steps to Better Writing & Improving Your Writing Skills

Better writing is something all writers strive for, but many still struggle with polishing their work. Reviewing your work doesn't have to be complicated. But it does take attention to detail to produce polished content. This checklist will help you review your work and stay on the right track to providing professional and worthwhile content to your readers.

The Review Checklist for Better Writing

Valuable Content

Valuable content is so important to keep your readers engaged. If the content you provide doesn't offer some value to the reader, expect him to stop reading, or worse, to disregard you completely.

Clear Writing

Give it to them straight. One surefire way to confuse your reader is to use an ambiguous word or phrase. To be effective through clear writing, make sure everything is spelled out. Don't make your readers guess what you mean.

Tone of Message

How is the tone of your message? Are you being courteous to your reader? If the reader feels yelled at or mistreated, you'll lose that reader. Make sure your content (e-mails, especially) sounds professional at all times. Even though you may have a particular style or voice you're going for, always treat customer service in a professional manner.

Word Flow

Word flow is another important necessity when writing effective content. If your content doesn't have the right flow, you'll lose your readers because it is too cumbersome or too difficult to read. To fix your content, read it out loud. If you stumble, rewrite it until you can read it smoothly.

Word Choice

Word choice is key to ensuring your content makes sense. The best way to know if you're using the right words is to know their definitions. If you don't know their definitions, grab the dictionary and make sure your words send the message you really want to convey.


Grammar can be a bit tricky at times which is why it is a good idea to have a reliable style book handy. Don't have one? The AP Stylebook offers an online resource at www.apstylebook.com. If you are uncertain about a grammatical rule, there are plenty of resources to help you understand it.


Check for proper and consistent punctuation. Inconsistent punctuation is a pet peeve of mine. To me, it stands out like a sore thumb. Having a thorough understanding of punctuation rules will help ensure your punctuation usage is correct and consistent.


First and foremost is spelling. Fire that spell checker and dig into that dusty dictionary. Let's face it: you can't rely on technology to write a professional piece of material. No matter how horrible you are at spelling, it will be much more beneficial for you to flip through the dictionary than to guess the right words with your word processor's spell checker.

Once you have reviewed your work for proper spelling and even fixed those pesky word errors (did you mean purebreeds or purebreds? Sour or sore?), you can move on to the next step: checking for grammatical errors.

That's it. Eight important areas to review before publishing or sending your content. How did you do?

Jody Calkins
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