In these days of email, social media and texting, we probably communicate more in writing than we did a few decades ago when we had to actually speak with each other because there was no immediate alternative. At the same time, our spelling and grammar skills seem to be on the decline.
Whether it’s a text or a tweet, an email or a Facebook post, everything you put out there should be as close to perfect as you can make it.
There are a number of reasons but the most important is this: If you can’t get basic spelling and grammar right, what else can’t you do right?
In “Are Mistakes in Marketing Copy Acceptable,” I wrote this:
If your marketing message contains mistakes, what does that say about your product—especially if it’s an information product? What does that say about how much attention you pay to detail or how much you care about doing things right? And what if your mistake either changes the message you intended to send or makes it impossible for the reader to be sure what you really mean?
The need for accuracy goes beyond marketing messages. Perhaps the highest profile target when it comes to spelling errors and typos these days is President Donald Trump—and he makes plenty of them. Most of us aren’t likely to ever be scrutinized as closely as he is, but if our messages are being read by only one person, they still should be right.
I use voice-to-text often, generally when I’m sending something on my phone that’s more than a few words long. Not long ago, I sent my husband Jerry a text to tell him that I was leaving a friend’s house, stopping at Hobby Lobby for yarn and would be home after that. When I dictated the text, my phone typed “urine” instead of “yarn”. I corrected the message before I sent it.
Of course, your friends and family are likely to forgive a typo or misspelling in a personal text. But when you do it in a public or business arena, you open yourself up to ridicule, could possibly offend someone (especially if the spelling error is that person’s name) and risk damaging your credibility.
Proofread (because spellcheck isn’t enough—words can be spelled correctly and still be wrong).
Look it up if you’re not sure.
And for the really important things, have someone else check what you’ve written before you send it out.
Yes, I know we’re all in a hurry and these things take time. Just remember the adage, “If you don’t have time to do it right, how will you find time to do it over?”
Even more important, how will you find time to correct the damage?
She is the author of Words to Work By: 31 devotions for the workplace based on the Book of Proverbs and Finding Joy in the Morning: You can make it through the night. She is also the co-creator of several coloring books for adults.