Pruning your website texts
Not all sites need a total English-language rewrite. Many will only need a light weeding to polish their texts, often a matter of a few hours’ work. It is not very sexy work and it perhaps makes for a rather boring blog (!) but here are a few do-it-yourself tips that can make a major difference.
Less is more:
- Break long sentences into shorter ones.
- Eliminate unnecessary details, words. Be brutal.
- Transfer the text into a word document (or other program with English spell- and grammar-checks). Correct accordingly.
- Be alert for homonyms, which spell-check will accept but wrong is still wrong: “to, too, two;” “their, there, they’re;” but also “choose, chose;” “advice, advise” and “accept, except.” These are the key ones; lists of others can easily be found on the internet.
- Be particularly careful with technical terminology: when you use specialized jargon, explain it. Do not assume your audience will be experts.
- Provide a short identification of lesser-known place names, and other proper nouns.
- Use active tense rather than passive tense. For instance, "I love puppies" reads better than "Puppies are loved by me."
- Search the word “have.” Many people overuse the continuous tense (“I have worked; I have had the function”). The simple past tense is stronger: I worked; I had the function/I was.
Let me know if this helps!