Frequent Web Copy Mistakes

Blog Categories:  Content Marketing  

While editing Web copy for a little more than a year at Straight North, I have seen a few blunders that stand out like a sore thumb. The following examples adhere to The Associated Press Stylebook, which is the style guide we use at Straight North. After reading the common mistakes below, you may find that your Web copy needs edits:

1. Incorrect Subject-Pronoun Agreement

Collective noun issues

Let’s start with a small quiz:

Which statement is correct?

1. The company released their new website last month.

2. The company released its new website last month.

If you guessed No. 2, great job! However, many people would likely guess No. 1 as the correct statement — but why?

It’s extremely tempting to write the way we speak, but oftentimes that leads to incorrect grammar usage.

First, let’s define a collective noun, which refers to a group of people as a singular entity. Therefore, terms such as company, client and group fall into this category.

Because a company is a singular entity, it gets a singular pronoun to reflect this.

Here’s another quiz:

Which statement is correct?

1. The employee is in his 20s.

2. The employee is in their 20s.

The correct answer is No. 1. An employee is one person, so that sentence requires a singular pronoun (never plural).

2. Inconsistent Company Names

There have been times when the Straight North content team has had to clarify whether a company name is one word, two words, uses an ampersand, etc. — because it was listed several different ways on its website. Imagine how confusing this may be for a prospect. Be sure to choose one name and stick to it.

3. Compound Modifiers

When two or more adjectives are used to describe a noun, they should be hyphenated. For example:

  • High-quality content
  • Brick-and-mortar location

However, exclude the hyphen with adverbs that end in “ly,” such as “the highly intelligent teenager.”

The reason for a modifying hyphen is to help clarify a statement. Without it, an endless slew of words can become confusing. Just because a sentence makes sense to you doesn’t mean it will make sense to a website user. When appropriate, add a hyphen.

Tightening your business’s Web copy and making sure it adheres to grammar rules will keep your company one step ahead. Grammatically correct writing reflects a business that genuinely cares about details.

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