Language isn't static. It's constantly evolving and adapting to reflect (or, in some cases, shape) cultural attitudes and social interactions. This is particularly evident online - the Internet is a social sphere, filled with written information that's constantly being shared, critiqued and repurposed.
Despite this, the evolution of communication technologies is occasionally cited as a corrupter of language and killer of literary forms. Naysayers of social media have decried the damage it has caused to our basic grasp of grammar and spelling, while others suggest that the free-flow of ideas has diluted their impact.
The justifications for these claims may have some grounding, but their validity seems to be weakening in the context of online publishing. The Internet is getting more intelligent and demanding more from content. Users, as well as search engines, want better quality, relevant and creative information. Essentially, they want communication to be clear and information that's easy to understand.
Although creating engaging and unique content that's rewarded online by users and search engines is no mean feat - not only must it be bled over, it also needs to be saved from drowning in the din of the information superhighway – the guiding principle for creating effective and engaging content seems to be say what you mean as clearly and simply as you can.
Communicating knowledge, information and ideas clearly is best achieved through an effective and simple writing style. Essentially, this means at least a basic command of English grammar and punctuation applied to a considered use of sentence structure. Plain language is also crucial: never use a long word where a short one will do.
Many more tips for writing well could be listed here, but there's no consensus - at least not until the publication of cognitive scientist and linguist Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century in September. In the meantime, to adapt a phrase used by Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Jonathan Sumption, a clear and effective writing style is 'common sense with knobs on'.
At Curated Media, we work with our clients to give them a clear online voice. By creating interesting and quality content, we can help businesses achieve their goals and engage with new and existing customers. Find out more about our process.