Have you ever received one of those ridiculously blatant scam emails? You know the type. One of Curiosity’s principals received a message a few months back claiming that he’d won “Six Hunderd Million Dollars” from the European lottery and forwarded the embarrassing scam to the entire company for a good laugh.
It’s something we all unconsciously look for. Ever scan through Craigslist, think you found a great deal on a gently used something-or-other, and noticed yourself completely deterred by the seller’s inability to spell anything remotely correctly?
Nitpicking grammatical offenses might seem judgmental, but it makes sense in certain situations.
When we’re given very little information about a source offering a product or service and need to determine whether or not they’re reliable, text is sometimes all we have. And when the person on the other end of the conversation can’t take the extra minute to check spelling or Google an unfamiliar term before posting it for all to see, what does that say about them? You might assume they’re careless. They don’t know what they’re talking about. And they don’t think very highly of their audience or the product they’re selling.
Nobody likes a typo. In advertising, it’s imperative that an agency be able to develop a brand image that communicates quality and that people feel they can trust. And there are often only a few seconds to gain the audience’s favor.
The same rules apply when you’re writing your resume, sending an important email or simply trying to communicate any message that drives people to take action. One misstep, and the message is lost, along with your credibility and any chance of a meaningful relationship with your audience.
My point is that going the extra mile to proofread your work (bonus points if you have other people look it over) is always worth the effort.
A few tips for getting started: I’ve reread my own work repeatedly before and still missed errors. It’s important to have a fresh set of eyes on the page, whether that means waiting an hour or so before looking it over again, or having a trusted friend or coworker take a look.
I also have a few resources I use as a proofreader that I couldn’t imagine living without now: Check out Grammar Girl (www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl) for answers to questions you’ve never even thought to ask, and Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com) is always useful in checking spelling, definitions and parts of speech.
And when you’re pressed for time, copying and pasting your writing into a Word document and running the spelling and grammar check can often catch the bulk of any typographical errors (but don’t rely on that alone if you have other options available!).
In my experience, the more thought and preparation you put into your message, the more positive a response you’re likely to receive. And sometimes that bit of extra care is all it takes to stand out from the crowd.