I was discussing this topic with an old professor the other day. It’s amazing how companies are not just selling a brand – they’re selling a lifestyle. When you hold up a Starbucks cup and a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee, people are more apt to choose Starbucks. There’s a language associated with the lifestyle. Servers are called baristas; instead of ordering a small, medium or large, we order a tall, vente or grande. Nike does the same – selling an athletic lifestyle. Even Apple, with its ad, “The Crazy Ones.” It sells to, and connects with, the misfits.
We’ve all been there. We sit behind a desk for hours, feverishly typing our thoughts. Four stressful hours and five cups of coffee later, we’re convinced we’ve written the “perfect” paper. We press the “send” button with a sense of accomplishment as the assignment is delivered to our professor/client/boss’ inbox. But soon we realize our perfect paper is far from that. The paper is soiled with spelling errors. We wonder, “How can I have spelling mistakes? I used spell check!”
There’s no rule saying you can’t use spell check. I actually think running spell check is important when you’re typing up a document. But it definitely should not be your only means of proofreading what you write.
Spell check will let you know if there is a group of letters that doesn’t form a word. For instance, if I type junp instead of jump, spell check with catch it. However, it will not recognize that a word is spelled wrong if it is used in the wrong context. If I type, “I red Tina Fey’s book,” instead of “I read Tina Fey’s book,” spell check won’t recognize the error because it’s spelled correctly. As PR professionals, we cannot afford to let any grammatical errors creep in to our work. Publishing something with typos can hurt your credibility. If a journalist reads your mistake, he/she is likely to say, “What a bozo! There’s no way I’m using this,” and click “delete.” If your readers see it, they may say, “Why should I trust them if they can’t even spell?” Your client certainly won’t be happy.
Lately I’ve been noticing errors more often when I’m reading something or even when I’m watching the news. I’m surprised to find typos – even whole sentences misconstrued – almost every time I read the Staten Island Advance. I’ll also find spelling mistakes on ads in the nail salon. Please, don’t take a chance on losing credibility. Check your work.
For some of us, editing and re-editing can be daunting. Still, spell check is not the best tool to check for errors. The only surefire way to be error-free is to proofread your work. I find it better to print out a hard copy of my work and read it over, making changes with a red pencil. I’ll even hand it to my father or a friend and ask them to proofread it. Use a method that is right for you.
How do you proofread your work? Do you use spell check? What are some of your spelling nightmares?
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Tagged Arts, PR, professionals, Proofreading, public relations, Reading, spell check, Spell checker, Spelling, Staten Island Advance, Tina Fey, Writers Resources, writing