You No What I Meant

13 Nov

Ever come across a type-o in a book and wondered how it ever got past the editor’s desk? In the world of digital checkers, it seems almost unforgiveable that something as lazy and careless as a spelling error could make it into press. And yet, it happens all the time — in literature, in business, in our personnel lives. (Did you catch that?)  Here’s an example.

In July of 2011, an NBC-owned Twitter account broke news that the President would be “making a personal statement in the Rose Garden” the following afternoon. As you might imagine, speculation ran rampant. What breaking personal news could the President have to share in a Rose Garden news conference? A tragic illness? A family crisis?

Of course there was no such scenario. The tweet merely included a critical type-o. The President was, in fact, announcing a “personnel” change in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But, for nearly an hour before the error was noticed and corrected, the Twitter world was abuzz with speculation.

When releasing written statements to your audience, whoever they may be (your friends, your boss, your co-workers or even your family), keep a few tips in mind.

  1. Use spell check. If your computer doesn’t automatically notify you of errors with underlines or auto-correct, use the “tools” menu available on most office systems.
  2. Re-read your work. It’s amazing how often you will find and correct your own errors if you just give it a second look before sending.
  3. Ask someone else to read it for you. Let’s face it. Even some of the most articulate people we know, might not know a colon from a semi-colon. Forgive yourself and admit you just don’t know what’s right.  You weren’t an English major.  Your recipient, however, just might have been.

When our spelling is perfect, it’s invisible. But when it’s flawed, it prompts strong negative associations.   — Marilyn vos Savant

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