What difference does a single letter make?

I’m surprised that people continue to argue about the need for correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you’re in any doubt, try working as a proofreader.

We regularly proofread material produced by companies, councils, universities, schools and other organisations, and frequently grind to a halt because we can’t understand something.

In novels or poems, writers sometimes aim to entertain through using language that is a challenge to understand. This is not the case for companies or organisations dealing with customers who need information fast and in an easy-to-understand format.

So when you read a brochure or letter where you have to stop, go back and re-read a sentence three times to figure out what the writer is trying to say, you know that something needs changing. Perhaps there’s a word missing, a plural noun with a singular verb or three sentences crammed together in one.

Rather than being there to annoy us, spelling, grammar and punctuation aim to make text easier to read and understand. They can also make reading and writing more enjoyable and more effective, especially for companies producing marketing material to sell their products and services.

Accuracy is also very important. Would it matter to you if you published an advert with one wrong digit in the postcode? Would it make any difference if a newspaper published the wrong date for an event you were holding? (This happened to me recently – it was the newspaper’s mistake.)

If we use the language tools available to us to make our material as easy to understand as possible and we check all details to make sure our material facts are correct, we do all we can to help our communications achieve the best results for business.

After our last blog, have you decided how well print and digital communications work for you?

z2zine tomorrow: What is there say about my business?

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4 Comments

  • Robert

    5-Aug-09 at 12:00 pm Reply

    I do so agree with you on this.

    I’ve just done a fairly complex e-mail to a client and I needed to proofread it. Not because there were any spelling errors, I had used the spool chucker, but because I had to be certain the words used were the right ones and in the right order! Not having the benefit of someone I could pass it to for a fast read and comment I used my computer’s ability to convert text to speech. I made a couple of changes after this, did it again and happily sent the e-mail.

  • Robert Zarywacz

    5-Aug-09 at 12:08 pm Reply

    Thanks, Robert. Converting to speech is a great idea. Hearing your text read back to you also lets you know if it sounds natural.

  • Angelika

    5-Aug-09 at 1:56 pm Reply

    I also agree, as the same goes to translating and not just proofreading. It’s hard work to translate a text if it hasn’t been spelled correctly (luckily I don’t get many of those).

    …better check that I didn’t make any mistakes here, or Mr Zarywacz will tell me off 😉

  • Robert Zarywacz

    5-Aug-09 at 2:12 pm Reply

    I’m sure I wouldn’t have to.

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