Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are You Making These 10 Mistakes in Article Writing?

1. There's no point. Is there a clear focus to your article, or is it just a rambling of opinions and ideas? Using the structure of a Top 10 list should help.
2. There's no space. Is there enough white space for the reader in between ideas? A good rule of thumb is four lines maximum per paragraph. If you're publishing an HTML newsletter with a sidebar, that could be as few as one or two sentences!
3. There's no discretion. Oh my goodness!!! Are you overusing exclamation marks? If it's really that important, tell us why! Otherwise you're just distracting your reader.
4. There's no reader. Are you talking AT your reader or TO them? Ask them questions, use the word "you," and take a conversational tone in your writing. Try reading your articles out loud as you write; imagine a client is listening.
5. There's no end. Do your sentences tend to run on and on? Don't make it hard work to read your articles, or your readers won't stay with you. Write clearly and your ideas will be read, understood and shared.
6. There's no action. Do you let your reader off the hook with passive language? Pull them in by using lots of action words for things they should do, or to describe things you or others have already done.
7. There's no logic. Are you confusing your reader by combining too many points in the same paragraph? Use a clear and concise structure to separate your ideas.
8. There's no match. What is the focus of your list? If it's problem-focused, or a "don't" list (Top 10 mistakes, Top 10 symptoms, etc.), then that's what the header of each point should be. If it's solution-focused, or a "do" list (Top 10 ways to, Top 10 tips, etc.), then ALL of your list items should reflect that.
9. There's no magic. Do your list item titles (mini-headlines) stand out and attract attention? Choose a similar short phrase or keyword for each, rather than a full sentence. Make each mini-headline approximately the same length.
10. There's no invitation. Have you ever heard Andrea Lee say, "A confused mind always says no"? In the Author Resource box at the end of your article, make it clear which ONE action you'd like the reader to take - preferably to visit your website and sign-up for your free gift.
(c) Linda Dessau.

Linda Dessau is an editor, ghostwriter and certified coach, and is the author of The Customizable Style Guide for Coaches Who Write: Look Smarter, Write Faster and Get Better Results from Your Writing. Want more secrets to good writing? Visit to pick up your FREE copy of the Readability Secrets for Coaches Who Write. It includes a 5-point checklist that is guaranteed to improve your writing.

Write it down,



  1. Carma,

    Excellent points - thanks for the reminders. I tried the link because I thought the checklist might be nice, but couldn't find the link.


  2. I am so sorry Judy. I sent a link to the list. This does sound like a nice report and I am going to try and access it too.

    Thanks for stopping by


  3. Hi Carma,

    This is timely indeed as we're all writing queries right now!


  4. Thanks for the reminders Carma.My biggest challenge is LOGIC part. after working on a piece for too long, sometimes I just lose perspective and don't know whether the points i'm making have flow.

  5. I know what you mean Damaria. Reading out loud will sometimes help jog my logic but even then it is easy to miss something. I always need a third eye.