May 8, 2013 Leave a comment
What has happened to our ability to spell, punctuate and grammatically construct even the simplest of sentences? It never ceases to amaze me the number of written missives I am on the receiving end of that are littered with spelling and grammar errors. I’m not talking about words which might be hard to spell, but simple words, like ‘simple’. I’m talking about incorrect use of their/there or your/you’re. I’m talking about entire paragraphs not threatened with a single punctuation mark. The basic stuff, the really basic stuff.
The saddest bit? I work in an industry where writing skills are considered a prerequisite. It’s genuinely disheartening! Don’t even get me started on CVs which haven’t had even the most rudimentary proof. I remember long afternoons at school filled with spelling tests and grammar lessons, it was important and we were taught that it was important. That emphasis on getting the basics right seems to have disappeared. I’ve heard people boasting of their inability to spell like it is something funny or to be proud of; or chuckling over the fact they don’t know what an apostrophe is.
I’m not saying I’m an expert by any stretch; I make mistakes, I have to check things, I use a dictionary, I check APs style guide and I am somewhat over judicious with my use of the semi colon. That’s the point though, I check. If I ever spot a typo on something I have sent or distributed I am aghast! At my current agency, we have a practice of making sure written documents are proofed before being sent externally, be it to a client or journalist. It is a good practice, often in PR things are written in haste because that’s the nature of the beast; mistakes are easily made and a second pair of eyes can often spot them quickly. It also means you learn and get into the habit of proofing as you go, because let’s be honest, no one likes to be picked up on a silly mistake.
It’s that pride in your work and the desire to get things right the first time that seems to be missing from many people’s writing. You don’t need to be able to write like Oscar Wilde but being able to put together something like a CV which reads well and has good spelling and grammar shouldn’t be out of the bounds of expectation. First impressions count, and if you can’t be bothered to get your CV right, you’re not going to get on the good side of any employer.