Keeping the Grammar Police off your doorstep
We’ve all done it – for hundreds of different reasons! We’ve hit the send button or clicked ‘publish’ and made those grammatical mistakes in a piece of work you were really excited about – only to cringe as the Grammar Police hunt you down! Luckily we work these days in a digital world, where (most) things can be put right pretty easily, and we aren’t trying to figure out how to manage a warehouse full of expensive brochures that need shredding.
So today we just wanted to say ‘IT’S OKAY!!!’. We totally get how these things can happen, so today’s article is really trying to share those useful tricks we have found to help us keep one step ahead of the punctuation-patrolmen and spelling-sergeants. We are the first to put up our hand to making mistakes – and from that we have learned to:
1. Graciously give and accept notes on errors (no-one will ever have made them on purpose).
2. Get quick at fixing them (and relax knowing that in the online world – everything can be fixed)
Let’s start with a quick recap on the impact that spelling and grammar have on all our brands’ marketing. Is it really that important?
While Millennials may be a little more laid back when it comes to grammar, the numbers still stack in favour of getting it right, first time!
Disruptive Communications surveyed 1,003 UK consumers about the factors that would be most likely to damage their view of a brand. The number one response – by far – from 42.5% of respondents, was “poor spelling or grammar”.
Global Lingo also conducted research, and their survey of 1,029 people found that 59% “would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website or marketing material”. As well, 74% answered ‘yes’ when asked: “whether or not they tended to notice the quality of spelling or grammar on a company’s website”.
This all leads to five ways that spelling and grammar errors can affect your business:
1. It lowers your credibility.
2. It scares prospects away.
3. It often misleads the reader.
4. It is distracting.
5. And, it may affect your Google search rankings because of the 4 factors above.
While Google advises that spelling and grammar on your website are not technical SEO ranking factors, they will directly impact on the performance of the page. Time on the page could be reduced as visitors are distracted, bounce rate could increase as prospects get turned off, and conversions will take a hit. All of which will point to lower quality content, and a loss in online reputation.
And with Google reflecting this poorer user experience, enquiries, leads, and sales will feel the pressure. Whether you are selling to a mass consumer audience or corporate business one, not taking the time to effectively proofread your content before publishing will impact your brand, its reputation and therefore your bottom line.
Getting it right comes down to your proofing process – Our 10 Top Tips
Whether you are just trying to craft that perfect email to send to a client, preparing content for your website or building a presentation you want to share with your team, here is the tried and tested approach that we try to follow:
1. Set up your document with at least 1.5 times line spacing. This will give your eyes a chance to clearly see each word.
2. Run your spelling and grammar tools (make sure they are turned on!). They definitely aren’t a complete solution, but they will provide a good first port of call. Grammarly® is our trusted friend here at Excite. With a free base subscription, it can provide you with an automated grammar checker and writing assistant (Grammarly.com)
3. Take a break. Sometimes we are so close to the written ideas that we can’t actually see what is in front of us.
4. Print out a hard copy and grab a pen that isn’t black. Circle anything you want to change and note the amendments.
5. Go someplace different – walk away from your desk.
6. Read it quietly to yourself using your pen to point to each word as you say it.
7. Read it backwards to focus on spelling.
8. Check on the things where you frequently catch yourself out.
9. When updating your text, mark off each change as it is made.
10. Think you’re done? Ask someone else to read it out loud. This will help you see if the words that were in your head are being translated in the way you wanted. If they stumble on any sentences, there’s a chance that the wording could be improved.
Learning from our mistakes – another top 10 list
We asked around the team today and pulled together this list of common mistakes that we try to stay on top of. We are thinking of compiling the Hottest 100 so if you have any to add please let us know!
1. Its or It’s
This one has a lot of confusion around it, but the simple rule is – use the apostrophe when you are taking something out. It is = It’s
One of the most overused words in our language. If you think you can go without it … you probably can!
3. Your or you’re
Just like number 1. It is a case of adding the comma when you are taking away. You are = you’re.
4. Confusing stationary and stationery
I taught my kids this simple rule: cars are stationary and paper is stationery.
5. Redundant words
This becomes very common with acronyms. PIN standards for Personal Identity Number. You don’t have a PIN number, you just have a PIN.
6. ‘Would of’, ‘Could of’, of ‘Should of’
Nope to all three! It’s about what you ‘have’. Or what you ‘could’ve’ had.
7. That or Who
He’s not the person that got it wrong. He is the person who got wrong. He is a person, not an object.
8. Using ‘they’ when referring to a business
A business is a singular thing. “Excite Media said they would give all their clients free doughnuts” should be, “Excite Media said it would give out free doughnuts today”. And sorry, no actual free doughnuts today!
9. There or Their
This is usually just a typo, so keep an eye out for it. Over there, you will find their belongings.
10. And finally, just getting the wrong word… Confusing ‘racked’ with ‘wracked’
Or ‘bated breath’ instead of ‘baited breath’ Or ‘mute point’ instead of ‘moot point’
Some of this list include the use of apostrophes. Here is a quick guide from the smart people at Oxford Dictionaries to keep handy when your hand is next wavering over the apostrophe button.
So to round off this story on all things grammar
Here are a couple of language myths we are happy to bust open.
IN OUR OPINION …
“i.e.” and “e.g.” mean the same thing.
Wrong! “e.g.” means “for example,” and “i.e.” means roughly “in other words”. You use “e.g.” to provide a list of incomplete examples, and you use “i.e.” to provide a complete clarifying list or statement.
There is only one way to write the possessive form of a word that ends in S.
Wrong! It’s actually a style choice. For example, in the phrase “The bus’s sign said it was on Route 375” you can put just an apostrophe at the end of it (the bus’ sign). Both ways are acceptable. Another example of this is with names ending in “s”. For example, “Chris’ favourite team, Collingwood, lost again on the weekend” works as “Chris’s favourite team, Collingwood, lost again on the weekend”. The important thing to know is that Collingwood did lose (yet again) – sorry Chris!
You can’t start a sentence with a conjunction (like ‘So’)
Yes, you can! If you would like! Again this is another style preference rather than a rule. Conjunctions are words that are used to connect clauses, sentences or words. Some examples include and, but, so and if. Obviously, not a great thing to overuse, but if you see the connection between two ideas, you have our support to go ahead.
We hope this has given you some ideas for staying on top of all things “word-ly’. Keeping the Grammar Police from knocking on your door requires a steady and constant focus, but following these few ideas we have shared should help keep you ahead of law!
P.S. While we did our best to follow our proofing process we’ve left one error in just for you to spot! Let us know if you find more!