Spelling Errers and Other Gramatical Mistackes!
Before shooting off a “You’re an idiot, Editor” e-mail to me, you should know I made the mistakes in the headline on purpose. How many of you caught it right away?
As an editor, I often read the same article, news item or blog several times. After a while, my eyes tend to put words and punctuation where they actually don’t exist, or I sometimes even gloss over blatant errors. We all make mistakes while typing quickly, our brains moving faster than our fingers. Or maybe we’re unclear about the spelling or correct usage of word and take a chance. But it becomes a problem when we don’t proof what we write before calling it done.
Earlier this week, a press release came across my desk from a storage company. The release had four misspelled words. Easy words, ones that most readers would likely catch. Was the writer in a hurry, typing quickly, then shooting it off to the news outlets? Did the author’s computer lack the spell-check function? Regardless, there’s no excuse for the sloppiness in this press release.
The goal of a press release is to attract attention. And while misspelled words and grammatical mistakes will attract the attention of an editor, it’s not the kind you want. Some editors, I’m betting, saw the errors in this news release, had a negative reaction and hit “delete” rather than posting it to their news outlet. Other editors likely corrected the mistakes while shaking their heads in wonderment. While I applaud the self-storage company for attempting to garner some publicity via a press release, the execution could’ve been so much better.
There are a few lessons we can learn from this example. First—and the most obvious—check your spelling and punctuation. Errors like these tell your reader, “I don’t care enough about your time to make sure I have everything correct.” If you don’t have a spell-check function in whatever software program you’re using, ask someone else to give your copy a read.
If you’re unsure about punctuation or word usage, there are a number of good websites you can turn to for guidance. Some good resources include Grammar Girl, Merriam-Webster or Your Dictionary.com, which includes this gem, 100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English.
Also, always, always proof your copy at least three times before considering it finished. Proof it on the computer screen and print it out so you can review a hard copy. Then ask someone else to proof it as well.
This should apply to everything you do—your website, brochures, rental agreements, press releases and other printed copy. Think of it the same way you do your facility’s curb appeal. Cracked asphalt, overgrown weeds and burned-out signage send a negative message to potential customers. So do brochures or rental agreements riddled with errors. Just like you take the time to ensure your facility is in top shape, put the effort into your printed and online material. You’ll find the extra effort will be well worth it.
Do you have a go-to grammar website you’d like to share? Want to relate your own story of writing-gone-bad? Post a comment below or head over to Self-Storage Talk, the industry’s best forum.