A guest post from Hannah Feller, our youngest account manager! She is currently completing the BA program in English Literature and Linguistics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She is thrilled to be able to apply the theory she works with at university to social media for schools.
Have you ever been reading an awesome post on social media only to come across a grammatical blunder, typo or strangely capitalized word? It completely undermines the content, doesn’t it? That’s just one reason why it is crucial to pay attention to grammar and mechanics while celebrating your school. This post is here to refresh your memory about common conventions and help you put out the most professional posts possible.
This one is something that can be quite difficult, especially when it comes to school related words and topics. But that means it’s all the more important to get it right! When do you capitalize “district” or “high school”? This requires you to determine whether you are talking about a proper noun or a common noun. For example, if you are posting about “Fall River School District,” this is referring to a proper noun, since it is an individual, unique district. But if your audience already knows that you are referring to a specific school district and you omit the words “Fall River,” you are going to want to skip the capital letters, since you are referring to a common noun. Here are two sample sentences chock full of examples:
Today at Reedsburg Area High School, AP Calculus students had the chance to regard the entire School District of Reedsburg in a live stream of their most recent unit.
Today at the high school, math students had the chance to regard the entire district in a live stream of their most recent unit.
Other things to watch out for:
- Lake Mills Elementary School vs. elementary school
- Algebra vs. math
- Reedsburg School District vs. school district
- Fall River Middle School students
- kindergarteners, 1st graders, high school teachers
Point of View and Verb Tense
Let’s say you get an email from a Mrs. Hill, a hypothetical kindergarten teacher, which reads as follows:
My kindergartners and I went on a nature walk today! We made drawings in the woods by the elementary school and then in art class, we made paintings based on those sketches. Here are some pictures of their work!
While it may be tempting to copy and paste this into a Facebook post, think for a second about the point of view being presented. You are supposed to be posting in the name of the school district, not Mrs. Hill and her kindergartners. That means you need to rewrite all post ideas you get in the third person. Here is the previous email from the point of view of the school district:
“It’s always nice to get a breath of fresh air! Mrs. Hill’s kindergartners went on a nature walk today, sketching their surroundings along the way. Then, in art class, they transformed their drawings into bright, bold paintings. We are so proud of their artistic skills!”
See how it is appropriate to use the word “we,” which signals first person point of view, in the last sentence but not in the others?
Associated with point of view, make sure to decide whether you are going to write in the past or present tense and stick with that for the entire post. If something has already happened, which is likely the case, just make it easy for yourself and use the past tense throughout.
One thing that really stands out in a post in the overuse of exclamation marks. Of course, we want to be positive and upbeat about our schools, but we don’t want to make it seem like we are yelling at our followers or being overly enthusiastic. Here’s a good rule of thumb: try to pick out the most intriguing sentence in your post and just use an exclamation point for that. Then, if you feel you have a secondary exciting sentence, try to make sure it isn’t right next to the other one with the exclamation point. In other words, avoid back to back sentences with exclamation points. If you find yourself still wanting to use a lot of exclamation points, try adding adjectives and verbiage that will up the positivity of your post.
Our middle school students recently completed their community service project! They used their free time after school to go and clean up public spaces! Awesome work, #FallRiverPirates!
Our middle school #FallRiverPirates recently completed their community service project! They donated their free time after school to clean up public spaces as a team. Take a peek at their hard work and give this post a thumbs up to show thanks.
Notice how much more professional the second post looks and sounds, just by deleting exclamation points and adding colorful language.
This next category is best explained through the use of examples, kindly supplied by another fabulous account manager, Tanille. Just watch out for comma placement and use it as a guide for your posts.
- Dates: Edgar Elementary will be hosting a bake sale Monday, March 13th, at 9:00 am, in the cafeteria.
- Places: Our FBLA students will be heading to Madison, Wisconsin, for the state competition!
- Relative Clauses: Congrats to Alec, #EdgarExcellece senior, for raising $500 for Jump Rope for Heart!
- Lists and the (optional) Oxford comma: The kindergartners made hats, masks, and puppets.
- Joining two independent clauses (ones that could be sentences in their own right): #AntigoPride 4th graders hit the trails in phy-ed, and everyone enjoyed the great weather!
- No comma if the second part is a dependent clause: #AntigoPride 4th graders hit the trails in phy-ed and enjoyed the great weather!
Sentence Structure and Active Constructions
Above all, make sure to use concise, clear sentences in the active voice. Be direct and say what you mean! We only have a few seconds to catch the attention of someone scrolling through a bunch of posts, and the best way to do this is to avoid wordy constructions. For example, read through the following sentence:
Reedsburg Area High School seniors recently spent time doing a project involving community members and staff members alike.
Far too many words, right? Try to shorten up awkward phrasing:
RAHS seniors tackled a project with the help of staff and community members.
Hopefully these tips help you in crafting more professional, engaging posts and using a coherent writing style!