Good grammar counts

Consultants Working  CREATIVE computers and great graphic art make it easy to compose internet content, social media blurbs and blog articles today.      Entrepreneurs often become their own marketers, communicators, and promoters . . . but should they?

Is ‘doing it all’ really the best way to be successful in business?   Not everyone is a great communicator. Even fewer of us are good spellers or grammarians. Publishing without polish can do more harm than good.

Most successful business owners excel in their area of expertise. They’re good at gardening, auto repair, or health care, for example. They may not do so well with writing. In that case, it pays to hire a professional to help communicate to the public.

Credibility counts                                                                                                               Even though business owners are often the best spokespeople for their products and services, their credibility can be ruined in an instant if they post a piece with obvious spelling or grammar errors. If writing style is archaic, hard to read or doesn’t communicate messages correctly, it can do more harm than good.

From the class genius to the guy who got Cs or Ds in English, everyone notices typos in print. Customers equate sentence fragments, grammar mistakes and spelling bloopers with incompetence. Such errors reflect poorly on any business.

Since computers can’t read words in context, the best spell checkers occasionally goof.  They may make corrections that aren’t needed, turning right words into wrong ones. Old-fashioned proofreading is still your best bet. A few simple tips include:

  • Two / To / Too: Use “two” to write out a number (two cats). “Too” means also (I want to go, too. I want to go also). Use “to” as a connector (to the store, to the car, to the person in front of me).
  • It’s / Its:“It’s is always a contraction, meaning “it is” (“It’s raining”); Its (without an apostrophe) is a possessive. (The dog lost its bone) Its shows ownership.
  • You’re / Your: “You’re” stands for “you are” (“You’re late); “Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “Get your coat.”
  • There / Their / They’re: “There” refers to a place (“Let’s go there.”); “Their” is a possessive pronoun, as in “Get their coats.” A contraction spelled “they’re” replaces two words “They are.” (They’re going on vacation).
  • Who / Whom: Use “who” in place of it, he or she. Use “whom” where you would write him, her, us.
  • Punctuation and quotation marks:  Commas separating a direct quote from the rest of a sentence should be placed inside the quotation marks. The same is true for periods. Question marks should be inside quotes only if they are part of the quote. Outside, if not.

Fool-proof your proofreading                                                                                         It’s not always easy to proofread your own work. If you know exactly what something is supposed to say, you may subconsciously see what should be there rather than what’s actually on the page. Here are a few suggestions for fool-proofing your work while proofreading:

  • Increase font size to 150 percent to better see your words and more easily spot errors. (Don’t forget to switch it back to normal size when done proofreading).
  • Change the font to Courier, a mono-spaced font, to disrupt typical pattern recognition. This will help you pay closer attention to the text while proofing.
  • Read your work out loud. Hearing it helps you spot mistakes you might not see.
  • Print out a document to catch errors on paper that you’d miss on the monitor.
  • Ask a few other people to read your writing for accuracy before publishing it.

Keep in mind that everything the public sees makes an impression  – positive or negative. Misspelled words, bad grammar, or sub-par writing skills can lead to loss of business, no matter what business you’re in!

Susan K. Maciak Let’s Talk Business! Blogs by Susan K. Maciak                                                            CAMEO Consulting LLC:  cameo100.com  | ask@cameo100.com

 

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