Spelling errors insult readers.
The subtext of work delivered with errors reads like this … “I don’t really care about you; I have far more important things to worry about than checking my writing for errors. You can do that for me.”
Bad business writing costs your company money.
It means loss of goodwill, integrity, professionalism and has a habit of clinging to your reputation.
If something’s worth writing, it’s worth writing well. And checking.
However, checking for spelling errors is far more than just running it through spell-check software.
They are fabulous tools to help you get through the majority of the work, but they are limited.
You could have correctly spelled a word, but it’s the incorrect usage (read … there/their, going/gong, except/accept, from/form, seals/sales) and so it slips through the cracks, often with embarrassing consequences.
Publishing work with errors effectively publicises your own sloth (or ignorance).
Don’t do it.
But not everybody is a great speller. No matter, you don’t need to be.
Just be a good checker.
Here are five steps to help you avoid terrible spelling outcomes:
- Print out your copy – reading in print forces you to read slower (and therefore find errors easier) than skimming on screen
- Check one level of text at a time – start with main headlines, subheads, quotes, footnotes, captions, hyperlinks and then body text
- Start at the bottom and work to the top, and/or back to the front, and/or right to left – reading backwards prohibits skimming and mental word replacement
- Change the font and/or the colour – altering the font and colour often makes errors stand out more easily
- Mask off the proceeding line – forces you to focus and not skip lines/words
These techniques kill your brain’s chances of ‘seeing’ or reading what it ‘wants’ to, rather than what ‘is.’
They force your brain to process your work one word at a time; and by slowing down you see every word separately.
At that pace you WILL catch the errors.