Blog: Spelling mistakes will always matter

Blog: Spelling mistakes will always matter

November 4, 2014

As Queen once famously sang: “Mistakes, I’ve made a few.” Indeed I have – and certainly of the spelling variety.

And as a seasoned journalist, that’s simply not good enough. But it seems being slap-dash on the grammar front is slowly becoming socially acceptable. Why?

Reading the views of Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway in this BBC blog surprised and saddened me in equal measure.

Naturally she delivers a compelling and balanced argument over why we are far too hung up on minor errors like typos instead of actual content.

She wrote: “Writing is a sophisticated job and our brains focus on the structure, the sentences and the phrases, leaving the close-up work to be done on autopilot.

“Afterwards we are programmed to read only what we think we have written, not what we actually have.

“If that is the case, it is odd that we make such a phenomenal fuss about them.”

With the greatest respect, what poppycock.

Spelling mistakes do happen but accepting them as par for the course is a step too far – particularly for the professional ranks.

Social media and today’s time-conscious mindset is making us more immune to typos and punctuation howlers than ever before.

But should we shrug our shoulders and simply tell people to concentrate on the parts of the content that we’ve got right instead?

In a word: no.

Content laced with spelling errors and typos simply devalue it as we’ve said before.

They divert the audience’s attention away from the content’s key messaging, diluting its impact. Indeed, error-strewn copy can easily become a focus of ridicule negating its reach completely.

As internal communicators, we want to engage employees to achieve new heights of excellence. If our own wording is riddled with glaring mistakes, how on earth can we inspire our colleagues to excel in their own roles?

Lucy is correct to suggest that perhaps too much emphasis is placed on the odd typo here and there.

But we should never be happy to make a spelling mistake, no matter how thought-provoking the article may be.

Communicating clearly and concisely is a prerequisite for today’s IC professionals.

Getting your grammar right first time goes a long way to ensuring that communication will hit the right note.