What to Avoid When Writing a Letter – Part 2

Passive sentence structures are also common mistakes in letter writing. Rarely does the passive voice in a sentence work well. Programs that track sentence structure and can alert you to when you have just written a sentence with a passive voice are helpful. It bears repeating, however, that these software programs are not without shortcomings in catching all mistakes. Visually check your letters for mistakes in conjunction with using any of these software programs designed to root them out for you.

Not understanding how to use punctuation symbols in sentences is another of the common mistakes in letter writing. Placing unnecessary commas in sentences can confuse and irritate readers. Punctuation symbols used incorrectly can change the tone and message of your letter in unintended ways. Learn how to use punctuation correctly.

Let the run-on-sentence not be forgotten as one of the common mistakes in letter writing. Many people struggle with when to stop a train of thought or how to properly punctuate a compound sentence (really two complete sentences in one). It can be agonizing trying to determine the perfect spot to end a sentence with a period, and thus begin a new one — or where to place a comma, or when to use a semi-colon instead. For the average writer, it is best to read your sentence aloud. This is often the most helpful tool for determining where one sentence needs to end and another begin.

Unintentionally focusing your letter more on yourself and not on the letter recipient is another of the common mistakes in letter writing. Be stingy about using "I" in your letters except where necessary in the context of a particular sentence or paragraph. "You" places the focus where it should be — on the letter recipient. Use this word as often as possible in the natural flow of your letters.

Wordiness is another of the common mistakes in letter writing. Most of us are very busy people. We do not want to have to spend a lot of time reading something that is ripe with unnecessary wordage cloaked around the real message contained in the letter. The shortest path to what you want a reader to know by reading your letter is always the best path. Pay attention to coherence as well. People do not want to read a letter that is all over the map. There needs to be a sensible and sequential flow of ideas and points made in your letters.

Look for these common writing mistakes in your letters, and fix them before they leave your home or office.

Read: Part 1


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