5 spelling mistakes that can harm SME communications

Five embarrassing typos to avoid at all costs

Posted: 25th Nov 2014

WHEN WE WRITE quickly with the intention of publishing or emailing our work ‘yesterday’, there is a real danger of inserting a mistake that we would not ordinarily make. Consequently, these mistakes have the effect of making us look like we don’t know our stuff. These are generally basic errors that could have been averted if we’d taken more care.

Quite worryingly for a small business, these sorts of mistakes can cost you new customers. While pedants are often irritating, small businesses and sole traders should not discount these people as potential clients!

Here are five mistakes it would be worth your while to avoid making.

The hurried three-letter word: We type the words ‘the’ and ‘and’ so regularly that we can become blind to the fact their characters are easily transposed. It’s always embarrassing to see when you’ve accidentally published ‘hte’ or ‘adn’. You may be lucky enough to have turned on your spell-checker, in which case these two words should auto-correct. But you should be reluctant to fall back on such a facility. Not all smart devices or apps have this built in. Proofreading will be your only friend!

The missed vowel: It’s all too easy to think you’ve typed a double letter (such as in too) only to find later on that you wrote ‘to’ by mistake. It’s especially easy to do if you’ve got a sticky keyboard or are using a smart device with a fast touch keypad. Auto-correct facilities on smart devices aren’t always tuned in to grammar, so the upshot is they may choose the wrong form of a word for you. Our advice is to read over what you’ve done carefully before hitting that send or publish button.

The missed consonant: Getting your vowels right is essential, but consonants are just as important. In fact, missed consonants can prove incredibly dangerous to your business. Leaving out certain letters will result in a different word being created than you intended, perhaps to great (but embarrassing) comical effect. Can you imagine a serious newspaper article describing the actions of a violent criminal, only to see in print that he has been described as a violet criminal?  Now imagine this kind of error writ large in the newspaper’s headline – an action liable to win it a spot on the satirical TV show Have I Got News for You. Now imagine such an error slipping through in your own business communications – your emails, leaflets, brochures etc. Not only will it cause unintended amusement, but you’ll probably have spent good money on the print run too.

The jumbled word: Another tricky and oft repeated mistake that your spell-checker won’t find is what I call the jumbled word. Let’s say you meant to write ‘Please fill in this form’. Later on you realise you wrote ‘Please fill in this from’ instead. Doh! There are so many words in the English language that use the same letters in a different order – we really do need to be vigilant. Here’s an even more embarrassing example. ‘John’s new brassiere is being opened tonight by a surprise celebrity guest’. The word should of course have been brasserie. I’ve seen this happen in print more times than I care to mention. If you’re opening a little bistro soon, pay very close attention indeed to your marketing material. The same applies if you’re opening a new underwear shop. You don’t want people trying to book tables for two in confusion.

The problem with public…: The problem with the word public, when you’re typing or reading very quickly, is that the letter L can become invisible very, very easily. I won’t spell this out in full to you. Simply look at the word public and imagine what word is created instead if you remove that L. Don’t fall foul if you can possibly help it!

Shudder people, and take note. Proofreading is very important to your business communications.