Always check what you've written

Are you over reliant on technology to help you write?

Writing, whether emails, reports, proposals or promotional material for your business is something that most people do every day. Technology is integral in getting things done.

Yet how reliant are you on technology for the spelling of words?

Have you ever read a document with some or maybe even many spelling errors?
Running a marathon

Running a marathon barefoot can be done but it’s painful.

What impression did it give you?

I recently received a promotional flyer riddled with spelling errors. What impression do you think that gave me of the company? Needless to say, it went into the recycle bin.

Reading a document with spelling errors doesn’t give a good impression of either you as a professional or your organisation.

But worse still, it’s difficult to read and understand. It’s like trying to run a marathon barefoot. You can do it but it will be painful.

Technology allows us to use built-in tools in programs such as Microsoft Word to check the spelling of words.

The spell checker or spell check, is a great tool that can assist you in your writing, especially if spelling is not your strength.

But… it’s important to not become over-reliant on spell check.

In this day and age when most of us are pressed for time, some people become overly reliant on spell check and don’t bother reading the document.

There are benefits of spending a short time reading your document (or email).

Even if you spend only five minutes reviewing your document (or email), there are benefits in stopping briefly before sending it to your reader.

Here are three benefits to remember the next time you’re tempted to press Send as soon as you finish writing.

Benefit #1

Anything that you send to a client or potential client reflects the professionalism of your business so it’s important that it makes sense to the reader.

Benefit #2

By checking your document you can review phrases and modify them to sound better.

Benefit #3

You can check if words that you’re uncertain about have been written correctly…and then correct any errors.

By spending some time reading through the document you are sure to find some minor (or major) changes that will assist you in giving a positive impression of you and your business.

But won’t spell check help me with all of that?

The simple answer is yes, to a degree. The following passage was deemed suitable by the spelling and grammar check in Microsoft Word.

As an addled service, I am going two put this peace in the spilling checker where I tryst it will sale threw with flying colons. In this modern ear, it is simply inexplicable to ask readers to expose themselves to misspelled swords when the have bitter thinks to do.

Yet I’m sure you would agree by reading it, it is not suitable.

This is a perfect example of showing how words that sound the same can change the meaning of your sentences or make them confusing to read. It’s often the simple words when not used correctly can take the attention away from your key message and present a less than professional looking document. Words such as

your  –  you’re               there –  their –  they’re               it  –  it’s                to  –  too  –  two

can make the difference between coming across as professional or not. We know what we mean to write. Unfortunately, it is not always what is actually written.

Spell check, although helpful, can’t always guarantee that incorrectly used words will be picked up in a document.

Spelling and Grammar CheckHow can you minimise the chance of errors in your document happening and ensure that you use the correct word?

There are some simple techniques that can help ensure you come across as a credible professional. Here are three tips to help you use the correct words in your documents.

Tip #1

Keep a dictionary (whether physical or online) nearby if you’re not sure which word should be used. By checking its meaning you’ll be able to avoid some embarrassing moments.

Tip #2

Check if there is another word that could be used which has the same meaning and won’t cause any confusion.

Tip #3

Ask a colleague to check your document. A fresh set of eyes can often find errors that we don’t see.

Using technology can be helpful in checking a document. However you should never be dependent upon it as the sole means of ensuring it is ready to send. By giving yourself a short break after writing your document and spending time to read and review it, you’re able to avoid making your reader feel like they’re running a marathon, barefoot.

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Next…

Here are 2 more articles to help you with techniques to improve your writing:

Interested in a self-study course that gives you a solid foundation in business writing?

Business Writing Made EasyThe Business Writing Made Easy self-study writing course covers the areas of planning, writing and reviewing all types of documents, including emails. Each module is presented in bite-sized pieces of learning, enabling you to practise and apply the techniques quickly to your own documents. Even though it’s a self-study course, it has real-time support as you work through each module. Contact me to discuss your needs.

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Learn About This Author

Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone is the author of Success Talks: Conversations with Everyday Leaders. Maria works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. She provides tailored programs in presentation skills, business writing and effective communication as a leader and team member. Maria’s programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.

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