Do you totally rely on your spellchecker?

PPG Proofreading LogoDo you obey your spellchecker religiously? Do you do everything it tells you to do even when you don’t know whether it’s right or wrong? Your spellchecker is only as good as your knowledge of the English language.

Let me give you an example of what my spellchecker was telling me to do today:

I’d written the sentence (referring to some website content): “I think your content is fine, however,….”. My spellchecker was telling me to change ‘your’ to ‘you’re’ which is obviously wrong in this context. It was thinking that ‘content’ meant ‘happy’ in which case ‘you’re’ would be right.

OK, this is a fairly clear-cut example and I knew the difference and chose to ignore it. Would you have done the same?

This is an example of ‘contextual spelling’, first introduced in Word 2007. Whilst it’s a great facility to have, unless you know what is right or wrong, it can only serve to confuse.

You can turn the option on or off by clicking File, Options, Proofing (Word 2010) and (un)checking the ‘use contextual spelling’ option and then clicking ‘OK’ to save your settings.

If you still have doubts and want to ensure that your ‘content’ is right, speak to a proofreader.

Let me know if I can help.

Peter Clarke

Tel: 07843 304743

Email: peter@ppgproofreading.co.uk

Website: PPG Proofreading

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Read more about PPG Proofreading in the Reputation Advocates Directory

 

When to use an apostrophe

I don’t know about you but it really bugs me when I see an apostrophe being used incorrectly. If you have a reputation to uphold then the last thing you want to do is damage it by sending out written material that contains errors.

You wouldn’t believe the problems this tiny little punctuation mark can cause. It’s so insignificant you probably don’t even notice it when you’re reading at normal speed….

….and that’s the nub of the issue. People either don’t notice it’s there (or not) or they don’t notice whether it’s correct (or not), but for pedants like me, I do notice it!

So, let’s have a quick look at the only two instances when an apostrophe should be used.

To show that something belongs to someone, e.g.

Singular nouns and personal names:

The dog’s tail – says that the tail belongs to the dog.

John’s car – says that the car belongs to John.

Personal names that end in –s:

Charles’s ball – says that the ball belongs to Charles.

BUT some place names are an exception to this rule, e.g. St Thomas’ Hospital

Plural nouns that end in –s:

The dogs’ bowls – says that the bowls belong to some dogs.

Employees’ workplace – says that the workplace belongs to the employees.

Plural nouns not ending in –s:

The men’s hats – says that the hats belong to the men.

The children’s toys – says that the toys belong to the children.

The women’s coats – says the coats belong to the women.

To show that letters have been left out, e.g.

I’m – short for ‘I am’

They’re – short for ‘they are’

Didn’t – short for ‘did not’

He’ll – short for ‘he will’

It’s – short for ‘it is’

The apostrophe goes where the letters have been missed out and are used this way in informal writing. You should not shorten words when you are writing formal letters or emails.

One of the commonest mistakes I see is where people use an apostrophe to express a plural, especially when figures are involved, e.g.

In the 1980’s…

This is incorrect because it’s talking about the decade from 1980 to 1989 so it’s a plural and should be written ‘1980s’.

As a proofreader this kind of mistake is the sort of thing that I’m on the lookout for, not just because I’m a pedant, but to ensure that your writing is accurate, looks professional and is error-free. This gives you peace of mind safe in the knowledge that whatever you’re publishing will mean your readers will focus on your message or the meaning of your content and not looking for the next mistake.

If you would like me to help you to ‘get it right first time’, then please contact me on:

T: 07843 304743

E: peter@ppgproofreading.co.uk

Speak soon

Peter Clarke

aka The OopsProofer & Crimson Crab Reputation Advocate

How much do you value your reputation?

thumbs up, oops, oops proofredAre you aware that documents you’re sending out by post or by email attachment may contain errors that might damage your hard-earned reputation?

The reason I ask is because I recently received an email from the Sales Director of a local company in which was attached a sales brochure. On reading this brochure I spotted 12 mistakes.

When I replied to notify him of this, he was devastated as he had no idea that he was sending out literature that contained mistakes. He said he would be going back to his marketing people to point this out and that a new brochure would come to me first for professional proofreading.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that will spot these mistakes. Whilst the product being promoted wasn’t appropriate for me, those for whom it would be appropriate are probably now making a negative judgement about the business and saying, “If they can’t be bothered to check their literature, then why should I be bothered to place an order?” The poor quality of the brochure gives the wrong impression to prospective customers.

You probably do everything necessary to ensure that your products and services are delivered to the best of your ability. You protect your staff, yet how much care do you take over all the various bits of written material that your business produces?

I’m talking about stuff like website content, blog content, publicity/marketing material, emails, newsletters, reports…..the list goes on.

Many of us may take all this for granted as it is just something we do without thinking about it. But let’s think about it for a minute……..

Any piece of written material that you ‘publish’ by sending it to a customer or out into the public domain via a website or a blog, for example, is either promoting your business or it will reflect back on the quality of your business, without you even knowing it.

Did you know, in a recent survey, 59% of respondents said they would not do business with a company whose marketing material contained errors?

So, what do you do to make sure that your written content is accurate and error free? Do you rely totally on your auto-correct functions and a spellchecker? That’s fine, but did you realise that if a word is spelt correctly but you might have keyed it incorrectly, a spellchecker won’t pick it up? That could be embarrassing if you type ‘naked’ instead of ‘named’.

Reading and re-reading your own work is not only time consuming – time that you could be using to better effect – but you’re more likely to miss those small errors because your eyes and brain recognise what you’ve written and will skim over it even though it could be wrong.

The brain is an incredible thing. If you’re reading something and you spot a mistake then your brain will automatically flip into a different mode and focus on finding the next mistake instead of the message contained within the writing. So, if you’ve got an important message to get across to your potential clients, you must make sure that it’s error-free otherwise you’ll lose the reader’s attention.

These are classic examples of how a trained proofreader can help businesses to preserve and enhance reputations through the publication of professional-looking and error-free copy.

Peter ClarkePPG Proofreading Logo

T: 07843 304743

E: peter@ppgproofreading.co.uk

W: www.ppgproofreading.co.uk

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