Allow me to tell you a short, painful story.
Back in college, I took a creative writing course as one of my electives. Our final project was to write a short story that we had to share with the class. Copies were printed and shared with the students, so we had time to review each story outside of class. Upon our return, our teacher asked us each to read an excerpt from our stories and listen to feedback from our fellow students. One young man stood up to do the uncomfortable deed of reading his excerpt, and then he sat down, feeling proud and hopeful that his story had made the intended impact. Instead, one student (it wasn’t me!) gave him the brutal truth.
“Your paper was so full of grammatical errors and typos that it was hard to focus on the actual story.”
And that, my friends, is what brings me here today.
Here’s why good grammar is still important in 2018.
Yes, we are living in a digital age. Technology is king. Smartphones and texting have taken over the world. But clear communication is still important in business.
In fact, a Global Lingo study reported that 59 percent of its 1,029 study participants said they would not purchase products or services from a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling errors on its website.
Here’s how bad writing (whether it’s bad grammar, spelling mistakes or typos) could be turning off your audience:
- It reflects badly on your business and ruins your credibility. Consider your audience’s thought process. “If they have errors on their website, what might that mean for the quality of their products or services?”
- It makes you look uneducated. The last thing you want your audience to do is question your intelligence, because then your opportunity to reach them is gone.
- It causes confusion. Whether you’re sending a press release, drafting website copy or creating a brochure, it’s important to maintain consistent, clear messages throughout all your channels. For example, a typo listing the wrong date for your event on a press release can cause mass confusion as it gets distributed to the public.
- It distracts from your main message. Just like the college student in my story, if your materials are filled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, your audience will have trouble focusing on the actual message you’re trying to communicate. This alone can sabotage your goals.
Editing is key.
We’re all human and make mistakes. It’s natural. But you can avoid errors in your writing by:
- Reading your written pieces out loud
- Taking a break and coming back to read and edit it later
- Asking fellow writers to review your work and provide feedback
- Following an industry style guide, such as the Associated Press Stylebook.
If you’ve never heard of AP Style, it’s a helpful reference book used by journalists. It outlines basic rules for grammar, punctuation, journalistic style, as well as updates in common language, social media and more. We highly recommend it!