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Suicidal Writing Sins or How to Kill Your Article Without Really Trying

Updated on January 24, 2020
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don is a Writer and a Storyteller. He has published over 9 books on varied subjects along with many articles and commentary on his blogs.

I was Just Thinkin'

I was just hanging around and Thinking about this and I thought I would share what's on my mind!
I was just hanging around and Thinking about this and I thought I would share what's on my mind! | Source

Writing Errors can kill an article before it is even read.

Over the years that I have been using the web and writing articles for commercial and even entertainment purposes, I have noticed a number of common mistakes made by the casual writers out there.

When I see these errors, I just shake my head and move on down the list of search results to other, better written and easily understood options.

You see, like so many of my fellow web users, I have a low threshold for misleading or non-sensical articles that pretend to meet my search needs.

Here are some of what I consider the most blatant and, at the same time, reputation damaging errors that a web writer can make.

Understand what an article Title really is.

Probably the worst Sin for an article writer is to not write the absolute Best Title that you possible can.

What is the Title?

You, the writer need to understand that your article title is your Thesis Statement.

Remember back to your English Composition classes? You were told that you had to write a great Thesis statement for your article.

I remember one English Professor who told my British Literature Course class; "Your Thesis statement should be the perfect summary of your whole article that follows. It should say it all, in one or two sentences.".

I have never forgotten this little point and even though I often make mistakes with my writing, I do attempt to write a good title.

On the web, far too often, the writer of an article will become more concerned with the use of Keywords and end up with a title that makes very little sense to the casual reader.

Remember, the days when your potential audience was someone who picked up a book, and when the title confused him, he just flipped back and re-read the beginning.

Sure, people still read physical books, but in today's world, there are more people who read digital books, articles, and other forms of information than there are people who read physical books and magazines.

The world of information presentation has changed dramatically and today's writers are reacting to this new paradigm.

Perfect Grammar is necessary in the Title.

Yes! You must, absolutely must, use perfect grammar in your article title.

When I am scanning through the search results presented to me, my re-trained brain has adjusted to the world of digital information overload.

A typical web search for just about anything, will yield thousands of choices for me to select from.

In other words, I have more options available to read, thousands of options in fact, and I do not have the time to properly evaluate the many data sources presented to me.

The Language I Use

And, I read in English by the way; specifically, I read in American English.

OK, for you Brits, I understand that our American slang and even certain sentence structures have evolved away from "proper British English".

But, although I might want to apologize for this evolution, I still read everything as an American, not a Brit.

And, for those of you who studied English in your own countries, and have your own grammatical evolutions and idiosyncrasies, I am also sorry.

You see, as i have said, I read in American English.

And, when I search the web for information, my brain will trip over your subtle differences from what is acceptable grammar to me.

And, if your grammar doesn't flow "properly" for me, I will definitely jump over your offering. In a New york Minute! (Sorry, I had to add this as an example.)

Now, with that situation out of the way you, the article writer, needs to understand just who your audience is, and write for them.

By this I mean that if I click on a Brits recipe for a dish, I expect the measures used to be metric, not in the "old English measurement units" that the US has (stupidly) retained.

And, if I click on a recipe written by someone from india, I will force my brain to jump over a few of the typical evolutions of British English that is common in India. But, only a few; then it's "click" and I back to my search.

And of course, with my being an arrogant American, if you want me to read your articles then write your title in proper American English.

Real Grammatical Mistakes

But, regardless of your style of English, a basic grammatical mistake, in any language, is a form of writers suicide. When I see one of these, in what I consider the most important part of a web article I will mentally reject the article, out of hand.

I automatically assume that the writer is not a good writer, and that they did not properly edit their work. And, worst of all, I will assume that I will see more poorly written English throughout the offered article.

Perfect Spelling is necessary in the Title.

Then there is the spelling in the Title.

There is really no excuse for any misspelled words in a title. I mean, I think you have gotten the hint here that your Title is so important to the readers eye that along with the grammar and the awesomely crafted structure, the spelling must be perfect.

And remember, your spell-checker is not perfect. Oh yeah, it will check that each and every word you writedown has the correct spelling, but, it is not an intelligent checker.

By that I mean that it checks each word for spelling correctness. If the word is in its database as a proper English word, then it is OK with your spell checker.

It does not check if the word is the right one for your sentence.

For example, If you wrote the sentence; "The Deer goal stood up finally." it will be accepted by your spell checker. OK, you accidentally hit the "g" key instead of the "f" key for the word foal. Well both words are acceptable words, so neither will be shown as spelled wrong.

So, the best way to check your spelling is; 1- make sure you know how to spell the words you use, and 2- proofread your document repeatedly.

In Summary

In fact, I always have someone, often my wife, read everything I write, just to catch such errors. (and I will often still have errors pointed out to me by my readers, LOL!)

Just a note on this; when I am writing, I often have to totally rewrite sentences when I try to use a word that i am not sure of the spelling.

I find that often, changing a single word's spelling in a title can lead to a totally new sentence or two in my document, or title; just so I can continue to make my title coherent with my article.

Being a Southern boy, I will summarize with this ending.

Your title should flow across your brain like soft butter on a hot biscuit does across your tongue. In other words, a short perfect "flavor' of what your title promises is coming next.

Tips for writing good English

Use Good Grammar in your Writing

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      5 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      LOL! So True!

      Then I would fit in with all of those who just type and never go back and even edit the spelling of what they write, much less, the poor grammar.

      Thanks for the read and the comment,


    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 

      5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      So true.

      You should have called it, Ten Ture Tips For God Tittle Writing.

      Or something like that.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      lawdoctorlee- Thanks for the read.

      And your comments are right on the head. I went through a "Cap-a-holic" period when I was first on HP, and was throwing them into every section of my Hubs.

      Eventually, I went back and cleaned up my older Hubs, and now I am trying to break myself of another of my writing problems; comma splices.

      Oh Well, I still try to help other's writings when I se my own errors in their works.

      Thanks again for the read and the comment,


    • lawdoctorlee profile image

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 

      6 years ago from New York, NY

      I love this hub, Don. Writing is not just about creativity unlike, let's just say, painting or drawing or other forms of artistic expression that is subjective. Writing is a skill that takes time to develop. You absolutely cannot communicate an idea or thought in writing without proper grammar. Typos are one thing but there is no excuse for improper grammar.

      Allow me to add one more tip when it comes to writing an article or hub: when it comes to subtitles, I notice capitalization problems. Writers often use subtitles to identify a new paragraph or section. If the subtitle is a sentence, don't capitalize every word; likewise, if it is a phrase capitalize each word appropriately. For example:

      Phrase: "When Racism is Allowed to Thrive"

      Sentence: "HBCUs are not just for Black students."

      Voting this hub "up" and "useful." Thank you for sharing the most important writing tips with this community.

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Ok I know a lot about fishing so this will work out just fine. Thank you. Have a great New Year:)

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      suzzycue- Thanks for the read and the great comment about my Hub. These old lessons from my college years ae still valid these days, for the serious writer.

      Remember, readers are like fish, catch them with the Title, set the hook with the Thesis statement and the rest is up to your storytelling skills. LOL!


    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Don I love your southern summary of a title and that mantra will stick with me. A lot of very great advice here . Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Scott-More- Thanks for the comment and good wishes for the holiday season.

      I hope my article proves useful to you.


    • Scott-Moore profile image

      Scott Moore 

      6 years ago from Birmingham Al

      You make excellent points here. I have learned, also, that the title is huge.

      Even if the title could have been better, it does at least have to have all the words spelled correctly.

      I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

      Scott Moore

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      old albion- thanks for the read and the comment.

      Have a great day.


    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Don. I agree with everything you say here. Great advice, the title catches the reader. Well done.


    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 

      6 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      Don - Thank you so much for the response. I would not have thought of using quotes. God bless you!

    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 

      6 years ago from Palm Springs, California

      You practice what you preach. Good title and good read. Thanks

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Rhonda- First of all, thanks for the read and compliments on my article.

      As to your point about such "New Words"?

      Well, I cheat! It seems that if a word is not presently in the HP dictionary, you can place quotes around it, which implies several things to Google. 1- It might be slang so it is OK?, 2- It might be an acronym, so it is OK?, 3- It might be an accentuated reference relative to the story, so it is OK, or 4-The Google Spider doesn't have a clue to what it is and just lets it pass as a "new word".

      Like most things with Google, if you do something that is questionable, and don't abuse it, you can get a way with such tricks.

      Good Luck,


    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 

      6 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      I'm so glad to have found you here. I like the concise and to the point tips you give and have to admit to having made all of these mistakes. The spelling one is one that is close to my heart. I'm really into doing "upcycle" crafting how to articles but "upcycle" is not recognized as a viable, correctly spelled word, yet, though its past tense counterpart "upcycled" often is by Google. Many words that are somewhat new take considerable time to make it into the officially recognized dictionaries such as twerking which through repeated usage has become a viable word, nasty as it may be, but has yet to be recognized by Google spell check. All of that to lead up to this question; What do you suggest when using such terms? Abandon them? Run with it? Where is the middle ground?

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I have read a few hubs with errors in the title and content. Although the article is important or interesting, if one has to rewrite it for meaning - it is not worth reading. Great advice for all writers (I do make mistakes from time to time).

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      JamaGenee- I think the point is that Everyone has standards to one degree or another. But some of ur fellow writers just need to raise theirs. Especially if they truly want their works to be read by the rest of the wrold.



    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Don, I ahould've added that although I love supporting new hubbers, when I get an email notification that a newbie has published a hub in a category I follow - as opposed to notifications of new hubs by hubbers I do follow (like you) - I automatically delete any whose title tells me nothing about what the hub's about, or is so blatantly grammatically incorrect that I know the text of the hub will also be full of grammar and/or spelling errors and therefore a waste of my reading time.

      Note: I'm not totally heartless. If it's apparent English is not the author's native language, I'll at least have a look see and if the gist of the hub comes through despite syntax or grammar errors, I'll read to the end and leave a comment. ;D

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      JamaGenee- Hey! So good to hear from you again, girl.

      And i hope all is well with you and yours. As you said, poor grammar and/or spelling is such an irritation to me.

      And in a Title? Unbelievable that people can be so, so, non-caring?

      Oh Well,


    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Don, you've nailed it again! However, it's a pet peeve of mine that HP's hub compose thingy insists on us entering a title before we can move on to anything else. Sometimes I have NO idea what the title SHOULD be until I've actually written the hub. Even seeing what it looks like in hub form after writing it off-line is not a guarantee the original title was the best one. I'd be a much happier hubber if a title wasn't required until one is ready to hit "publish". A button one shouldn't hit until AFTER thoroughly proofing at least twice! Like you, improper spelling and/or grammar is a turn off for me!

      Upped and shared;D

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      tillsontitan- Hey! How are things going for you?

      Thanks for the comment, and I am so glad that you caught my Hot bi=uttered biscuit reference.

      I mean, is there anything so GOOD as a hot buttered biscuit in the morning with maybe a cup of steaming coffee?

      I hope I got the inference right.

      And, thanks again for the read and comment.


    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thanks, Don. All good points, written in an inspiring manner! Hope I don't violate your rules… but, of course, I'm not perfect, either! ;-)

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      goatfury- You make a good point.

      And the Title is the "hook" so it should look like the tastiest morsel ever seen (read?) by the fish (reader).

      Thanks for the read,


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I think being a writer carries a certain responsibility and certainly good spelling is one of them. You've made great points here Don but I have to go get myself a hot biscuit.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Ericdierker- Nothing teaches better than change, especially if there is a little "mental scar tissue" involved.

      I guess the new paradigm is that all of us, the readers and searchers on the web, are lazy and impatient people. We expect immediate response to our questions and we want the rsponse to be EXACTLY what we asked for.

      With this being the case, the title is so much more important than it was just a decade ago. I must set "the hook" well in searchers brain.

      Thanks for the response,


    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 

      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I can't recall who said it first, but essentially, the only job of the title is to get the reader to read the first paragraph. The only job of the first paragraph is to hook him or her into reading the article. Great stuff.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I have made every mistake you mention. Oh well Good judgment usually comes from experience and a whole lot of experience comes from bad judgment. I guess I will just keep on learning and this is a great tool. Thanks.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      billybuc- You know its wrong, I know its wrong, but....

      There are so many who think a sloppy effort presented to the world is not going to affect their image as a writer. And on the other hand, the millions around the world who were told they could get rich on HP by; copying other works, computer translate foreign documents, and even throw almost indecipherable language at the world is OK, need to be limited in some way.

      I still treasure HP as a place of artists for artists. But, you me; Don of the Quixote style, always tilting at windmills.

      Thanks for the read and comment, old friend,


    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      MsDora- Thanks for the comment.

      And. again, I have traveled the world extensively in my lifetime, and I have absolutely nothing against the slang and unique wordings of people from other countries. In fact, I find so many dialect and modifications to English quite entertaining, just as i suppose people from around the world are often in awe of my deep Southern accent.

      But, once you accept writing as your business, and have selected the US as your broad audience, then, well, give them what they expect.

      Thanks again,


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I can't begin to tell you how many times I've seen a word misspelled in the title of an article on HP. What's up with that? Usually it is in the words "there" and "they're." Unforgivable, and I refuse to read the article unless a very close friend wrote it. All good points here, Don!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      This is very useful, also a bit funny. I have confused myself with titles according to keywords, but not wanting to confuse my reader, sometimes I have to forget those keywords. I take all these points seriously. Aiming to please, I try to write American English, although I'm British Caribbean. Voted Up!


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