When I committed to writing regular blogs a few months ago my biggest fear was spelling and grammar. I knew I needed help! However I was also concerned that someone editing my work may remove my personality from my writing.
Writeability™ owner Faye put my mind at ease. Faye likens editing to French polishing a table. A good polish doesn’t change the table into something else; it just highlights its natural beauty. An editor’s job is to polish your words so their meaning is clear, error-free and unambiguous – but still recognisable as your words.
I agree when Faye says computer spellcheckers have a lot to answer for.
“They often automatically correct words as you type or suggest alternatives,” she says, “so if you aren’t that great at spelling or grammar it’s easy to introduce errors. I did some work for a client recently and queried the word ‘neutering’ in a sentence, as it seemed out of context. It was lucky I did, as it should have been ‘nurturing’!”
You’ll have no legal comeback if you approve advertising or printing copy that contains errors. Not only can this prove to be a costly exercise, it can also provide great amusement for your competitors and may put off potential clients. A real estate agent became famous for her invite to ‘go ahead and soil yourself’! In recent weeks I’ve seen reference to a charge of being ‘idol and disorderly’, someone ‘taking the reigns’, and a sink made of ‘stainless steal’. I also heard of a woman whose website listed her as a pubic relations specialist! None of these would have been picked up using a spellchecker because there are no spelling errors – but all were examples of the wrong word being used.
The English language contains many words that sound similar but have completely different meanings (here’s a list of common ones and their meanings – http://individual.utoronto.ca/h_forsythe/homophones.html). Using the wrong word can completely change the meaning of your sentence: you want to ensure you don’t desert your principles – not insure you don’t dessert your principals! Punctuation is also important – there is a HUGE difference between ‘let’s eat Grandma!’ and ‘let’s eat, Grandma!’)
“Some people say spelling and grammar are no longer important but I disagree,” says Faye. “It’s a very competitive marketplace today and your business card, brochure, newsletter or website may be the one and only chance you have to impress a potential client. If it contains errors you risk alienating your target market, or – worse still – giving inaccurate information that can come back to bite you.”
While those who aren’t good with numbers will happily hire an accountant, many mistakenly think editing is unnecessary and assume a quick read through will pick up any errors.
The problem is, when you have written something yourself you know what you wanted to say and your mind can fill in the gaps when reading it, meaning that errors can easily be missed. Having a professional edit a brief document or brochure takes less time than you think and will greatly improve your written material and enhance the image of your business.
TIP! Should job titles or occupations be capitalised? The general rule is no, unless there is only one person in the world or in the country who holds that position. So yes to President Barack Obama, Prime Minister John Key, Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, but no to managing director Jim Smith, surgeon Mary Brown, secretary Robyn Green.
This post is by Jason Lougher from Legacy and Faye Lougher. Faye is the owner of Writeability, which provides high quality writing, editing and photographic services to print and web-based clients. Writeability is a one-stop writing and editing shop that will ensure your written material stands out from the rest. Faye has a minimum charge of half an hour and then charges in 15-minute blocks after that so it’s not expensive.