Spelling is the most curable of all writing problems. Still, Internet content is full of spelling errors. Many of these are understandable—almost forgivable. But for most spelling errors that turn up on the Internet, there is simply no excuse.
Even if you believe you have a good excuse for your writing problems, many readers aren’t forgiving. In this day of automated, automatic spell-checking, leaving misspelled words in your content makes you look careless and ignorant. Forcing readers to wade through a mess to find the message may stop them in their tracks. Readers don’t notice when your writing is error-free, but you lose readers when it isn’t.
Forgivable Spelling Errors?
Are there really forgivable spelling errors? No. In the first paragraph I suggested there are spelling errors that are almost forgivable. And, if one of these appears in a 200 word article, picky readers may shrug and let it pass. However, when several almost forgivable writing problems appear in a single article, the transgressions become unforgivable.
I offer a short list of the types of spelling errors that are marginally forgivable:
Typos—It’s almost forgivable when a typing error results in the wrong—but properly-spelled—word. Picky readers sometimes nod and smile forgivingly when they spot these in your writing.
Sound-alike words—It’s almost forgivable when you use a word that sounds exactly like another word—but has a different spelling (these are homonyms, but you don’t need to know that). For example, you might accidentally write the word yore when you mean your, or flue when you mean flew. These spelling errors are usually the result of absentmindedness: you know the correct word, and are astonished when you recognize your mistake. Make one of these errors in your writing, and it annoys a picky reader. Make several such errors, and the picky reader disparages your work; you simply should not have published it.
Unforgivable Writing Problems
If there are spelling errors that are nearly forgivable, there are others at the other extreme. You deserve to lose readers for these misspellings: never misspell a name. Having trouble with names is understandable because so many familiar names have unusual—or multiple—spellings. It’s challenging to get them right as you create content. But misspelling a name is insulting to that which you name, and fans or familiars are likely to take offense.
Consider: If I mention Stephen King in an article, but I spell his name Steven King, his massive fan base may write me off as an idiot. Mr. King, also, is likely to write me off… I don’t curry favor by botching his name. I can lose all my readers in the state of Missouri by spelling it Misury. I might turn away car enthusiasts if I mention the classic Lincon Continental… and Civil War enthusiasts along with historians might also click away.
The biggest loser spelling error of all is misspelling the name of a customer or a prospective customer. When I receive a marketing letter personalized with my name—misspelled—not only won’t I read the letter, I’ll blacklist the source. If you don’t care enough to get my name right, you obviously don’t care about customer relations.
Fix these Writing Problems
Whatever writing problems you have, you must stop making spelling errors! These are so easy to eliminate:
- Always write in a robust word processor that has spell-checking capabilities.
- Use the spell-checker; fix the errors it identifies.
- When you use a name—whether a person’s name, the name of a team, the name of a place, or even the name of a horse, by gosh, make sure you spell it correctly. Look it up on line if you have even the slightest doubt.
- Read your work. Read it out loud. Have you used a word that sounds like another word but has a different spelling? Make certain you’ve used the correct word. If you don’t know, look it up! My favorite on-line resource for this is yourdictionary.com, but even just typing the word in Google might save you some embarrassment.
- Create a cheat sheet. All writers use words that won’t stick in their heads. For example, without assistance, I would misspell embarrassment… even though I’ve been aware of this problem for more than 30 years! If you constantly misuse your, you’re, and yore, add them to your cheat sheet, and stick it to your monitor so you never again make the mistake.
- If you can’t correct your own spelling, despite the awesome technology at your disposal, get someone to read your work before you publish it. Please!
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Here are links to other articles about writing problems. Please have a look:
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