Looked in a mirror lately to make sure you’re presentable? Or at least conveying your preferred image? Hair combed? Teeth clean? No clothing malfunctions?
Probably yes, considering how few truly slovenly people I see. But I keep spotting bad writing everywhere I look.
Why can’t people be vain about their printed words? Carelessness about poor grammar, misspellings, and word misusage is running rampant. And it can hurt your image, just as much as fashion mistakes or strong body odor.
For example, I’ve been hit over the head with the following just in the past few weeks:
* Wrong word in a document by an employee of an admired Fortune 500 company: “We work with them to ensure that they’re presentations and publications….”
* Misspelled word in a personal email message from an outsourcing company of a highly-respected Fortune 500 company: “Thank you for the informaiton you already provided.”
* Weird page numbering from another outsourcing company for yet another well-known Fortune 500 company: “Page 5 of 4.”
Yes, everyone (including yours truly) makes mistakes. But we have tools, such as spell check and colleagues to help us. And whether you’re providing proof points, requesting action, or telling a good story, you need to proof your work.
After you use spell check, try these five ways to check your writing.
1.) Put it aside for awhile and then re-read it.
2.) Even better, read it out loud.
3.) Print it out and read it. (Yes, this isn’t a green solution, but it’s better than littering with bad grammar.)
4.) Ask someone to read it for you.
5.) Read it upside down or right to left.
Errors can tarnish not only your reputation but also those who are associated with you. For instance, the outsourcing company manager who misspelled “information” also mangled the spelling of my client’s name, deleting about 30 percent of the letters.
I offered to buy him some vowels once I get paid for my work. I also said if I didn’t know his company better, I’d be questioning whether I wanted to be connected with an outsourcing firm as sloppy as this one.
Yes, I’m a snob. I think it shows respect to your readers to use correct grammar and spelling. It also saves them time when you write and spell properly.
For example, consider “lean” versus “learn,” “it’s” versus “its,” and “our” versus “are.” Change the word, change the meaning.
What do you think?