My 10 Pet Peeves in Blog Writing


Smiley-writing Actually, these are issues I see in all writing, online and offline.

1. Delete the word 'very' from your vocabulary. If you're happy, be happy – show the reader what you mean, don't fall back on a support word like "very". If you're mad – well, don't be mad; if you think you can be 'very' mad – think again. Might lead folks to call 911.

2. Maintain tenses. If you're writing in present tense, stay there. "I was off to the dog park and when we got there…" is just plain wrong. It's either, "We were off to the dog park and when we got there…" Or, "I was off to the dog park and when I got there…"

3. Recognize editorial content and opinion – don't present your opinion as fact. Blogs are notorious about this. Yes, as a blogger, you are right to voice opinion and be personal. Use "I" often. But, if you're "reporting" – cite your facts (three are usually good but add more if you have them), and note where your personal opinion begins and stops.

"I just read the latest NYTimes <link> article about how dogs think <link to another source> and had some thoughts on it. First of all, how can any intelligent person not believe dogs think? The articles online support belief that our furry friends do think <link to scientific study> and I, personally, have always believed it."

NOTE: facts are easy to manipulate – if you're citing an obscure publication, make sure you check on their facts! YOU are responsible for the factual information in YOUR post! Woman-dog-computer

4. Don't quote others without context and supporting information. Seriously, in your blog always provide a permalink. In your print writing, show the location of your source.

5. Learn how to spell. No, really…learn how to spell. It's "definitely" not "definately"… and, "you're" not "your" if you mean you are, and "their" for possesive, "there" for location, "they're" for they are. And for goodness sake, it's "it's" for it is and "its" for possesive!!!

6. Own up to your mistakes. I make grammar mistakes, typos and even forget to cite sources, once in a while. I don't profess to be perfect. When I make a mistake and someone calls me on it, I own up. I don't make excuses. Truth is – if you want to be taken seriously, you do what you can NOT to make mistakes but when they happen, it's mea culpa. Using style guides helps.

7. Links that don't work. I understand that links break. And, honestly, older posts may have broken links because the linked page no longer exists. However, within your blog, your links need to work. If I click your "about" link, it better take me to an about page. If I click your contact me link, it better show me a way to contact you. Don't send me to your resume page. Don't send me to another blog you write. Don't send me all around the web. Don't hinder me in finding what I'm looking for on your blog.

8. Not telling me who you are. OMG! I don't want a third person account: "Peggy graduated Summa Cum Laude from a high powered university and worked at Rodgers Publishing for six years. She left Rodgers to become a consultant…" Really? That's what you're offering me about YOU?

How about, "I love pets. I've loved pets my entire life – even while studying finance at my local Community College. My background is in publishing and that's one of the reasons I started this pet blog. I have a bull terrier and a fluffy mixed-breed cat and I lust after Golden-Doodles, but don't hold that against me!" Ah, now I'm feeling like I know you.

9. Long, dense paragraphs turn me off! Reading on a computer monitor causes eye strain. Trying to read long, dense paragraphs gives most people pause. Your message should be succinct and to the point, and any added material offered in short, bulleted points or one or two sentence paragraphs. Helps folks who read your stuff on a cell phone, too.

10. Not including images with your blog post! In the early days of the blogosphere, images were vital. People knew readers needed that break in text – an image worth a thousand words – to help them appreciate the blog message. Sometimes, the image can be the attention grabber. Without it, your post is just a lot of text, text, text…that I have to wade through. Give me a break! Show me a picture!

I'm sure you have your own pet peeves. Share'em with our readers. What have I done lately to annoy you? I can take it…tell me …

  • CeliaSue Hecht

    love it, but paragraph about spelling you spelled possessive wrong twice :-) it is four ss’s, if on purpose, hilarious but did not say so… good points though… and when the heck is my blog going on your blogroll already???

  • Yvonne DiVita

    @CeliaSue – Yay! You win! You caught my mistake… and it was NOT on purpose! I was just typing too fast. THANK YOU! When I do that, it’s embarrassing but so much more so if people reading don’t call me on it. w00t!

  • Brian

    Of course I would chime in here, but I think my tense has passed!

  • Helen Woodward Animal Center

    Also: don’t ever ask a question that your reader can answer with “no!” For example:
    “Do you want to see our adoptable puppies?”
    “Are you ready for our great event?”
    Our PR manager always teaches this at our animal center education conference! I’m a better blogger because of his wisdom. Thank you for these reminders, too!

  • Yvonne DiVita

    @Brian…I’m all tensed up waiting fur your bells to chime…
    @Marcie – Excellent point! I haven’t thought of that but I’m going to be thinking of it going forward.

  • CeliaSue Hecht

    yay, we is on the blogroll :-) thanks !

  • Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart

    Is there a way to include the post author in the email feed? That’s how I most often read the blog, and MANY times I have no idea who posted/wrote an item. For this post, it sounded like you, Yvonne, in terms of writing style … but I didn’t know for sure until I clicked through saw the Posted By tag.

  • Edie

    You got the one that drives me craziest — those extra apostrophes. If it’s not a contraction or a possessive they shouldn’t be there. I try not to judge (ha!) and I have tolerance of spelling errors because typos are easy to make but I tend to think people who misuse apostrophes are less intelligent than those who don’t. Sorry.

  • Caren Gittleman

    whew!! So glad that someone else mentioned the “possessive” first!! I didn’t know whether or not to send a private email (after we had a post about not embarrassing someone in their blogpost) and also the one yesterday about comments! lol. But…since you asked for it!
    I am guilty as charged with “its”….I HATE that I never get it straight!
    Some of my paragraphs are too long and my grammar isn’t alway spot on!

  • Caren Gittleman

    Oh God! Just saw Edie’s comment (right after I confessed about sometimes making mistakes with apostrophes)
    I am definitely not less intelligent but possibly lazy about looking it up.
    Now…I AM one sandwich short of a picnic though! :)

  • Yvonne DiVita

    @Roxanne – unless you do see another persons’ name, it’s me. Perhaps it’s now time to include my name as the author since we do have many other bloggers participating. Thanks for the incentive~!

  • Pamela

    Ooooh, brave, brave post. You tempt the gods when you write about mistakes.
    I wasn’t sure if Brian was referring to what I didn’t get in item #2. It appears that you’re talking about poor number agreement, not past and present tenses. Perhaps something that changed in editing?
    BTW, I’ve been using a WordPress plugin called After the Deadline (ATD). When you hit “publish” it gives you one last chance to review editing suggestions. It picks up most spelling errors and is very hard on passive language. ATD will also ask you to substitute simple words for more complex ones. It’s not perfect but I find the process of slowing down and looking at my writing under a microscope has helped.

  • Yvonne DiVita

    @Pamela – good catch on the “tenses”… not a good example, for sure. I do advise everyone to review their posts before publishing – something I did not do with this post. I sort of new there were probably some issues, and I wanted to see if people would call me out on them. I’m so glad people did! It’s far better to politely mention an error, than to think the author is a dunce and vow never to return.
    @Caren – we’re all guilty of the little mistakes – as much as it’s is a pet peeve, I have discovered using it incorrectly in posts, now and then! I’m so guilty!!! This post was generally meant for folks who mistakenly believe blogs aren’t intended to be ‘serious’ writing. Because they are. Anything written down, in print or online, is serious, IMBO.

  • Hawk aka BrownDog

    Had to laugh at your comment to @Pamela…
    Since I am always trying to learn better “blogger etiquette” I love when you point out the rights and wrongs.
    You’ve pointed out things I’ve never even thought about, but I could have been offending someone.
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  • Sarah Mullally

    Loved this info at the pet writers conference and love it here! Especially the tip about using the word ‘very.’ I have issues with that and I’m working on it! Thanks for great tips!

  • Sarah Mullally

    One more thing – I can’t ever remember the its vs. it’s and this was somewhat helpful although a few example would REALLY help. And I have a degree in Journalism from U of Iowa so this stuff AIN’T easy:)

  • Teri and the cats of Furrydance

    Great post…I vaccilate between writing like my cats and writing as Teri and it’s easy to get confused and forget tense etc. I do try and proofread my posts but miss things sometimes, too. I feel like the only cat that can really get away with catspeak (vishus…) is Skeezix and I admire ‘him’ immensely!

  • Pup Fan

    I was an English major, so the grammar mistakes do get to me from time to time. I know that I see the same types of mistakes from colleagues – I’m less likely to rely on their work if the grammar is sloppy. I perceive it as a lack of attention to detail.

  • Yvonne DiVita

    Wow…great points being made here. One specific focus I would like to stress: even the NY Times makes typos and errors. The goal is to proofread and at least *try* to catch your problems. IF you, as a reader, discover blatant issues, politely pointing them out, as people have done here, is key.
    The it’s and its is classic. Even when we KNOW which one to use, we can mess those up! Think of it this way: it’s means: it is… its takes possessive. “It is (it’s) a great day!” and, “People admired the house and its new paint job.”
    Make sense now?

  • Nicole, trainpetdog pet training affiliate researcher

    Those are nice tips. Blogging these days is very complicated which makes them interesting to read. I love reading and writing blogs myself.

  • Mary Haight

    Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” is also a handy reference book. We need to use the tools we have. It’s one thing to make the kind of mistakes Twitter may encourage, it’s another to decide not to use the spell check/grammar tool:)
    As we all speed through our tasks each day, it’s good to remember that people will take offense to misspellings and grammar problems, especially when meaning is obscured. Getting a post up just to be done with it is never a good idea (guilty!) – calendar of entries be damned! Blogging may seem like a lark, but any employer, present or future, can Google you and find what you’ve written. Wait a minute…
    OMG – hey, Edie, do you have time for an editing job, er, project;-D