The 18 Best Writing Tips You’ll Ever Read

Lauren Holliday
Jul 25, 2016 · 4 min read

What do editors say about your writing when you’re not around?

I’m willing to bet nothing good… if you’re not following these 18 very important writing tips.

1. Read. Read a lot.

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write. You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true.” — Stephen King

2. Read it before you send it.

3. Edit it before you send it.

4. Cut it before you send it.

5. Write in small chunks.

“Short paragraphs are awesome because they make the reader feel as if there’s less to try to information to tackle and creates a flow. This is why newspapers use short paragraphs, there’s a better chance that the reader will read the entire article.” (Source)

“Writing is visual — it catches the eye before it has a chance to catch the brain. Short paragraphs put air around what you write and make it look inviting, whereas a long chunk of type can discourage a reader from even starting to read.” (Source)

“Forget the old rule you learned in English class about starting a new paragraph only when the theme changes. If you’re doing a short story, you might have only one theme. But grouping all 10 sentences together in one paragraph is difficult on the reader’s eyes.” (Source)

6. Pick a grammar style, and stick to it.

  • Commas and periods go inside the end quote marks. ALWAYS.
  • Fuck the oxford comma. No serial commas: gummy bears, lollipops and chocolate — not gummy bears, lollipops, and chocolate.
  • Single quotes belong only around quotes within quotes and in headlines and subheads. NOWHERE ELSE.
  • Spell out “percent,” lazy. Only use % in charts.
  • Spell out all numbers up to nine. All numbers above nine, such as 10, 11 and 12, are typed as numerals… Unless the number begins the sentence. For example, “Ten days ago…” Not “10 days ago…” (Exception: Headlines/Titles)
  • Years are always expressed with numerals.
  • Use “more than,” not “over” with numbers.

7. Modern etiquette uses “she,” not he.

8. Write in a consistent person.

9. This goes for verbiage as well.

10. Use reliable sources.

  • Who wrote it? Might they have a motive for writing it?
  • Does the piece seem unbiased?
  • Where are they getting their information from?
  • Do a lot of people trust this site?
  • Did you verify this source’s information with Google to make sure the information in question is consistent with other sources?

11. Spell out the acronym the first time you use it.

12. Keep sentences short.

13. Attribute sources properly.

On the first reference, use the full name: Lauren Holliday. For preceding references, use last name only. Always.

Examples:

  • According to Lauren Holliday, creator of hackthejobhunt.com, you don’t use quotation marks when you use “according to.”

14. Don’t use exclamations.

15. Try to weave in a story.

16. The way your post looks matters.

17. Hyperlink to sources.

18. When in doubt, leave the comma out.