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Writing mistakes can quickly ruin even the best-researched and well-written pieces. New writers may feel intimidated by all the grammatical, story flow and other rules whether written or unwritten.

To forge ahead, understand that a handful of key tips can help avoid writing mistakes consistently. Don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over; and in the process strengthen your writing work potential.

Know Contractions

First, know how contractions operate. They just combine two words, as in “you” and “are” into “you’re.” When in doubt about it’s vs. its, or your or you’re, try this. Insert the option with the apostrophe, then say it aloud as the two words it’s supposed to represent. For instance, if you wrote “It’s you’re game,” say it without the contraction. “It’s you are game” indicates to use “your” instead.

You vs. you’re, its vs. it’s, and they’re-their are among the most common grammatical problems with writing. Often the option without the apostrophe, such as their, your and whose, describe possession of something: like your game in the example above. But saying it aloud is an easy trick.

Straightforward Grammatical Rules

Simple grammatical mistakes can convince readers that an article is sloppy or untrustworthy. Get comfortable that when choosing between “who” and “that,” go with who if it refers to a person. Joe is a driver who rarely speeds. Picking “then” or “that”? Remember than helps compare things. You’re better than that.

Some little writing rules are straightforward. Never use “alot” – a lot refers to a huge number of something, and allot means to assign or share. “Alot” is nothing.

Beyond Spelling and Grammar

Beyond grammatical and spelling errors in writing, important things to avoid are sentences that are too long or have too many commas. Good, easy-to-read text is best in bite-sized pieces. Keep sentences short. If you run across a long sentence divided by a comma, consider making it two sentences.

Same with too many commas in a sentence; it can break a reader’s train of thought and possibly confuse. Again, consider breaking the sentence into separate thoughts, or use a semicolon instead. To delete a comma, try “but,” “and,” “if,” “since” or “although” instead.

Eliminate Clutter and Plan Ahead

A writing mistake to avoid is clutter. If something seems to interfere with the flow of text or a reader’s ability to digest content, eliminate or replace it. Examples can include too many quotation marks around words; the above-mentioned overuse of commas; and too many pronouns.

Finally, a big writing mistake to avoid is disorganization. Either start from an outline or rough sketch of points you want to make and in what order, or in the end broadly review a draft from the perspective of organization. Does A lead to B which leads to C? Think of paragraphs as acts in a play.

Help guide the audience along with transitional words or sentences between acts, or with formatting options like subheadings or bullet points.

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