The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

HOT TOPIC Why spelling is important.

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,289
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
This is a topic that has been mentioned, on occasion, to bloggers and others who have written e-books or websites and want feedback.

Namely, that if you put your work out there and want to be perceived as professional, you need to write properly.

Or, you need to hire someone to edit your crud so that you can get your message across without turning off the reader. :)

We hang out on the tripadvisor forums to help travelers, and here is a GREAT example (posted today) of how an earnest assessment can become ridiculous when spelling is bad:

I had the lemon chicken as my main course and I have had more meet off of a KFC drumstick! the cost of my chicken was around $25 on the 12 of july 2008 and I felt like for the amout of food and the price the food sould have had some flavor but it was definetly bland and uninspiring. stay away form the artisan bread unless you like paying $8 for 6 peices of bread that would normaly come with just getting a table anywhere else. the only reason i would ever go back here is for the few good desterts that they did have like creme brlee, beary tart and their cheese course. originaly I had reaserched another restaraunt nearby and when i walked in here i had a feeling that this wasnt it , I should have gone with my instincts and left. If you find yourself in the same situation the place you are looking for may be right next door. (as it was in my case)
I did keep reading after I hit the first few snags, but my respect for the writer diminished significantly.

Sadly, their lowball score is what tripadvisor uses, so the damage will be done, spelling or no.

So here goes: How many of you think I'm just being Obsessive Compulsive here?

When you write something online, how important is spelling/grammar to you?

Do you feel that others make too much of this?


-Russ H.

PS Just for fun: How many spelling errors can you find in the review above?
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

MJ DeMarco

Administrator
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
29,335
101,617
3,751
Fountain Hills, AZ
Russ you aren't OCD ... you bring to light a problem I see more and more. Now, I admit I make spelling errors all the time ... however, these horrific diatribes are more common than not and it isn't just spelling ...

Improper capitalization / No capitalization
No use of periods
No use of commas

Just look at the comments on most blogs ... most write in this unfinished fashion. Web 2.0 has struck a light on the grammatically deficient.


Now if I wrote this instead, would anyone take me seriously?


Russ you aren't ocd you bring to light a problem I see more and more now i admit i make spelling errors all the time however these horrific diatribes are more common than not and it isn't just spelling improper capitalization no capitalization no use of periods o use of commas just look at the comments on most blogs most write in this unfinished fashion web 2.0 has struck a light on the grammatically deficient
 

Allthingznew

Contributor
Aug 26, 2007
416
56
25
I think in forums and such typos will happen, but the example above is painful to read. sorry, I might have been willing to count before I started reading, but I'm not going to read it again. :smx4:

I don't think you're off base, words have meaning. I am often derailed when someone even misuses a word in conversation because I know what it means and that's the direction my mind follows. Sometimes I can just chuckle to myself and sometimes I am thoroughly confused.

I'm guilty in forums of my fingers moving slower than my mind moves and a proof read can often be a good idea. I also appreciate reading good writing.
 

Luke12321

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Jul 27, 2007
663
197
97
North Carolina
I agree. I grew up on instant messaging and short-hand lingo started with that. Text messaging has taken it to a new extreme level. I am not someone who text non-stop like some but I have actually caught myself in college classes using the lingo. Sometimes not even knowing it until I go back and proofread my paper! I guess if you are texting and then start writing, the mind has a hard time switching back and forth sometimes?

I think the problem is only going grow....especially when the kids who have been texting since age Eight starts publishing online.
 

Luke12321

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Jul 27, 2007
663
197
97
North Carolina
Is it just the spelling that bothers you or the overall grammar? Being a teacher I am used to reading much worse than this. As an Adult I would hope you could at least get the spelling correct.
Have you witnessed any lingo in papers?

Such as:

lol, brb, rotfl
 

Runum

Platinum Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Aug 8, 2007
5,998
4,417
1,788
DFW
No I don't think you're being too picky Russ. However, I think that spelling, like handwriting, is becoming a lost art for several reasons. One of the main reasons is the computer. The students are taught keyboarding in middle school, which they need. One of the first things they discover is spell check. They don't understand the limitations of the system and they don't really care. I really do believe that one does lose credibility with repeated grammatical and spelling errors.:cheers:
 

Luke12321

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Jul 27, 2007
663
197
97
North Carolina
Good point. Spell checking does kill the need to worry about spelling. I speed through papers and then use spell-check. Just easier that way for me....
 

JScott

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2007
4,167
7,816
1,731

Now if I wrote this instead, would anyone take me seriously?


Russ you aren't ocd you bring to light a problem I see more and more now i admit i make spelling errors all the time however these horrific diatribes are more common than not and it isn't just spelling improper capitalization no capitalization no use of periods o use of commas just look at the comments on most blogs most write in this unfinished fashion web 2.0 has struck a light on the grammatically deficient
Yes, but only because you used the term "diatribe"... :)

Seriously, when someone can't communicate, I often chalk it up to laziness (they either didn't bother to learn, or don't bother to be rigorous about what they did learn). And if someone is going to be lazy, they probably won't succeed anyway, so I'm not going to waste my time.

That said, sometimes poor communication is more attributable to language barrier, and that's completely different. If someone is attempting to learn a new language, that's the opposite of laziness, and I'll go out of my way to try to decipher the info and help.

Now that I think about it, perhaps my desire for rigor in this area comes from the fact that I wrote software for a long time...when you write software, one misplaced semi-colon can ruin your whole week... :)
 

yveskleinsky

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jul 26, 2007
2,233
495
192
42
Poor spelling in certain venues I can handle. I understand that not everyone is a fantastic speller, and that's okay on in certain venues. ...But there is a difference between being a poor speller and just not caring. Russ' example illustrates the point of someone just not caring.

Frankly, to me writing is an expression of who you are- and matters just as much as your appearance if not more so if it's published! If someone writes/posts something that is just sloppy, to me it's the same as them showing up in person looking like a hobo and demanding respect and credibility. If a person doesn't care how they appear, then I don't take too much of my time trying to figure out who "they really are". I'm also a firm believe in that how someone does something is generally how they do everything. ...I don't have the time or the energy in an attempt to unscramble what someone is trying to say. If they don't care enough, well, neither do I.
 

Bilgefisher

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Aug 29, 2007
1,849
285
73
Aurora, Co
On a forum it really doesn't bother me, but I tend to agree that in a professional setting it sticks out. If your job is a writer, then the public face of your business is the words on a page. Your customers (readers) use that to evaluate your performance.

Does a plumber need to worry about the grammatical flow of his sentences when writing a letter. No, its not his job. But he better be damn sure on the job he acts professionally, has quality craftsmanship and the plumbing has no leaks. The customers use these items to evaluate his performance.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

LightHouse

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Aug 13, 2007
4,086
5,980
1,316
Northern VA
50 bux sez everyone in here speels right


Seriously though, I tend to not double check everything when I post because I am moving so fast. After awhile it was suggested I get IE7 Pro with a built in spell check. That has help significantly.

It's not that I can't write or I am illiterate, but that I'm short of time.
 

rcardin

Contributor
Oct 30, 2007
512
46
32
Arlington, TX
If a person doesn't care how they appear, then I don't take too much of my time trying to figure out who "they really are".
I'm not picking on you or your beliefs but ......

We were in Corpus Christie the 2nd week of June camping. We had a nice 23ft travel trailer but it was getting too small for the 3 of us. We decided to get some air and go LOOK at a new RV. We had been on the beach for 3 days now. Hair was wind blown, beach shorts and a tee shirt, I had a 3 or 4 day beard going not to mention a pony tail half way down my back, and toting our 11 year old dressed like us. We stopped at the first dealer and the guy was cordial and showed us what we wanted. We told him we would go talk about it and might come back.
The next stop we encountered the dumbest salesman I have ever seen. The first question he asked my wife was" Are you planing on living in it?" That was the deciding factor right there of where we were going to spend our money.

We went back to the first dealer and he was surprised to see us back. We filled out the app and he entered it in. In his mind he never thought we would have a chance based on appearance. When he ran the credit score he looked up and said he didn't even have to get phone approval based on the credit score. We picked up our new travel trailer the next day.

Moral is: beware of first impressions based on appearance.
 

Allthingznew

Contributor
Aug 26, 2007
416
56
25
Good point. Spell checking does kill the need to worry about spelling. I speed through papers and then use spell-check. Just easier that way for me....
So your words are spelled correctly, but it doesn't stop misuse.

There, their, they're
Base, bass
Bear, bare
Tear, tare
To, too

You get the idea.
 

yveskleinsky

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jul 26, 2007
2,233
495
192
42
Moral is: beware of first impressions based on appearance.
For the most part I agree with you. If I am in a position of selling something to someone, I don't judge their appearance. I've worked in RE too long to do that!

However, if someone is wanting something from me (feedback, a date, a job etc.) then I expect them to put some effort in.
 

Luke12321

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Jul 27, 2007
663
197
97
North Carolina
I agree with you 100%. I work with so many kids out of high school who speak/write terrible and it does hurt my image of them. Even if I know they are a hard working...smart person, it makes me think less of them. Why? Because like someone said, it mostly because of being lazy!
 

JScott

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2007
4,167
7,816
1,731
Moral is: beware of first impressions based on appearance.
I don't lump appearance and communication together...

Appearance doesn't mean much to me (unless it's plain old dirty/unclean), and living in Silicon Valley, I've learned that the unshaven guy in blue jeans and a t-shirt most likely has a lot more money than the guy in the suit...

But communication is different. If you can't communicate, you can't strategically try to acquire your wants, you can't negotiate, you can't compromise, and you'll have a hard time trying to achieve your goals...

Just my $.02...certainly not trying to judge...
 

JScott

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2007
4,167
7,816
1,731
Seriously though, I tend to not double check everything when I post because I am moving so fast. After awhile it was suggested I get IE7 Pro with a built in spell check. That has help significantly.

It's not that I can't write or I am illiterate, but that I'm short of time.
I don't think Russ was referring to the occasional spelling mistake or missed punctuation. He was more referring to those people who write in such a way as to make it difficult to ascertain what they are thinking and trying to communicate...
 

biophase

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,772
30,801
5,083
Scottsdale, AZ
I rarely use spell check. I don't even use it in MSword. I usually reread what I type and catch any spelling errors then. Most of the time, I change the post when I reread it to improve the grammar or structure.

Regarding the food review in the original post, the spelling errors make the person's critique of the restaurant lose value. It could be a 12 year old kid writing a review. It could be a person who has never visited this restaurant. We can't believe that a person who actually visited the restaurant and has such a palette would write so poorly and would be satisfied to put his or her name on that review.
 

JScott

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2007
4,167
7,816
1,731
I rarely use spell check. I don't even use it in MSword. I usually reread what I type and catch any spelling errors then. Most of the time, I change the post when I reread it to improve the grammar or structure.
I do the same thing, especially on this forum. I probably average about 2-3 edits per post in this forum, as I often catch misspellings and poor wording that I decide to change...

Actually, I wish there was a way to find out how much edits I've done to see what my typical post-to-edit ratio is... :)
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

I85

Contributor
Mar 22, 2008
183
22
23
Iowa
But communication is different. If you can't communicate, you can't strategically try to acquire your wants, you can't negotiate, you can't compromise, and you'll have a hard time trying to achieve your goals...
I agree with this. However, being able to spell does not equate to being able to communicate with your peers. At least not in my opinion.

Poor grammar and spelling do not really bother me. However, when I start to get a head ache "trying" to read something poorly written...that's a different story. :bgh:
 

yveskleinsky

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jul 26, 2007
2,233
495
192
42
I agree with this. However, being able to spell does not equate to being able to communicate with your peers. At least not in my opinion.
It depends on your audience. I would argue to say that lax communication skills are like bad manners- they're not that important around close friends and family, but generally important to everyone else. If you are in sales of any kind, (and pretty much every aspect of life is sales- from dating to business and everything in between) then it's important to realize that your "ads" are only as good as their weakest elements. Meaning, when prospects are reading your ad copy and they come across a mistakes with grammar and spelling or typos, inconsistencies, sloppiness etc. they get a little question mark over their head. If your prospect has enough questions marks over their head they quickly discard your message as being junk.
 

JScott

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2007
4,167
7,816
1,731
I agree with this. However, being able to spell does not equate to being able to communicate with your peers. At least not in my opinion.
But if you really want to get ahead in life/business, it's not your peers that you need to successfully communicate with...it's your bosses, your customers, your vendors, your employees, etc...
 

I85

Contributor
Mar 22, 2008
183
22
23
Iowa
It depends on your audience. I would argue to say that lax communication skills are like bad manners- they're not that important around close friends and family, but generally important to everyone else. If you are in sales of any kind, (and pretty much every aspect of life is sales- from dating to business and everything in between) then it's important to realize that your "ads" are only as good as their weakest elements. Meaning, when prospects are reading your ad copy and they come across a mistakes with grammar and spelling or typos, inconsistencies, sloppiness etc. they get a little question mark over their head. If your prospect has enough questions marks over their head they quickly discard your message as being junk.
I agree. We are all humans. Occasionally we will leave a question mark over someone's head. That is no big deal, imo. However, when you leave them with 10 question marks over their head......different story.
 

I85

Contributor
Mar 22, 2008
183
22
23
Iowa
But if you really want to get ahead in life/business, it's not your peers that you need to successfully communicate with...it's your bosses, your customers, your vendors, your employees, etc...
Basically I'm saying I don't care how poor someone spells. Your ability to spell does not make a difference. Your inability to correct your errors or your unwillingness to do so is a totally different thing. However, that is something I see as laziness, not a lack of spelling.
 

unicon

Contributor
Feb 23, 2008
211
62
36
There is no excuse for lower standards

The greatest tool invented was the writing instrument (perhaps a rock for caveman) - a pencil

The context and priorities of the written word are windows to the soul and can move the world

Underestimated, I think not!
 

Mrs. BRKb

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Apr 27, 2008
703
971
365
USA
Knowing how to spell does have its advantages.
Spell checkers aren't perfect.

I remember the story of the nonprofit that did
spell check, and then sent out thousands of
copies of a publication that read "pubic"
instead of "public."
 

Yankees338

Bronze Contributor
Jul 24, 2007
1,829
136
81
28
NJ/MD
I think spelling and grammar are pretty important.

I think it could be a little different for me, though. Since I started posting here, I made it pretty obvious that I was younger than the majority of the posters. However, since I wanted to be taken seriously, I figured I better start acting like I belong.

I know there are successful people who choose to write informally and that's perfectly fine, but it definitely adds credibility when you use proper spelling/grammar -- at least in my mind.

On the contrary, I know of plenty of people who can speak very well and sound very knowledgable in doing so, but their writing comes off as being completely different. Is it laziness or lack of knowledge? I don't know, but I find it kinda interesting.

And on an unrelated note: I never use spellcheck or re-read anything unless I know I wasn't paying attention when I wrote it. Instead, I just pay attention while I write and try to catch little mistakes. I know plenty of things slip by -- especially things that I know I knew -- but we're human and it happens.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.


Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Sponsored Offers

Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
-- HALLOWEEN SPECIAL STARTS TODAY! Get any of my courses at Udemy's current best price through Friday! Use code: HALLOWEEN Use any of the links...
Top Bottom