Avoid making simple mistakes
So far, we have looked at professionalism in communication and getting your emails noticed. Allied with both of these is avoiding making silly little mistakes.
We all make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. We usually pick ourselves up though, dust ourselves down and move on.
Every once in a while though, a mistake we’ve made will come back to bite us and sometimes it can prove quite costly.
Imagine for a minute that you are a top goalkeeper. You will make thousands of saves in your career but you will let a few through. Just suppose the ones you let through are in key games like an FA Cup Final and you end up on the losing side, you are going to feel gutted. So will your team-mates.
If we put this analogy into a business context and suppose that your errors have cost your business a lucrative new contract which has now gone to one of your competitors, again, you’re going to be feeling pretty gutted as will your work colleagues.
Making these sorts of mistakes can be costly but by taking a bit of extra care we can eradicate some, if not all, of these errors. Here are a few examples of common errors that I come across whilst proofreading, all of which can be avoided:
Words with additional letters
It’s very easy to add a letter by mistake and it’s equally as easy to miss them when you are reading it back quickly, e.g.
illlicit , acccountant
Words with missing letters
Again, it’s just as easy to miss a letter out, e.g.
acommodation or accomodation (correct spelling – accommodation)
embarass or embarras (correct spelling – embarrass)
comittee or commitee (correct spelling – committee)
In both of the above examples, the errors should be picked up by Word’s Auto-Correct function and show a red squiggly line under the word but if you haven’t got that switched on then they may slip through, and you will be amazed at how many do just that!
Words that are correct, yet incorrect
There are lots of words that are spelt correctly even though you may have transposed a letter or just typed it incorrectly, e.g.
casual or causal
nuclear or unclear
form or from
than or that
nor or not or now
angel or angle
When you read these words quickly your eyes will recognise the word as being correct but may not register the fact that it’s wrong. Word’s Auto-Correct won’t highlight them as they are spelt correctly. A spellchecker will probably not pick them up either.
Words which sound the same but have different meanings, e.g.
weather or whether
hole or whole
effect or affect
compliment or complement
dependant or dependent
lead or led
principal or principle
practice or practise
their, they’re or there
Again, even though these words have been spelt correctly, your Auto-Correct or spellchecker may not pick them up.
Look out for Part 4 in the ‘Better Business Writing’ series when I’ll take a closer look at the apostrophe and the problems that such a small punctuation mark can cause.
Previous posts in this series:
Have you read: Writer’s nightmare – which one is right?