Donald Trump will be 45th President of the USA very soon. Whatever happens to the world as a result, it’s been stunned by his use of words on the way.
Whether he’s inventing words, such as tweeting ‘unpresidented’ instead of ‘unprecedented’, or mangling their use bigly, he has demonstrated their ‘very ugly’ power in the wrong hands.
Here are some tips on how to take care with words, so they can share your message or boost your business with clarity, simplicity and trust instead.
Watch out for typographical errors, or typos, in your formal communications, be it on your business websites, in your LinkedIn profiles, applications, charity funding proposals, or tweets about world powers.
Typos make you seem less trustworthy and so damage your credibility, research by Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab has shown. You want to inform, influence and persuade decision-makers, not distract and confuse them.
Don’t rely on spellcheckers when hunting for typos: most don’t spot the very common mistake of using a correctly spelt word in the wrong place – confusing homophones.
Homophones are not woodwind instruments, but words that sound the same while being spelt differently. Examples include: ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’; ‘hear’ and ‘here’; and ‘to’, ‘too’ and ‘two’.
Following a process will help you check – or proofread – your document effectively.
Take care: our minds are unreliable proofreaders when it comes to spotting our own mistakes. Our subconscious zips over double words, spelling mistakes or rogue punctuation without giving us the mental prod to correct them.
So, when proofing important communications:
- Make the mental switch from writer/creator to proofreader by taking a break or doing a different task for five minutes. Come back ready to be critical.
- Mistakes are easier to spot on paper than on screen, so print if practical.
- Read once looking for spelling mistakes or words to double-check. If you are in any doubt, look them up.
- Read again, this time looking for repeated words, missing words and those sneaky homophones.
- Read it a third time, out loud if you can, checking the syntax – which is the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences, not a new spray for sinus pain. Does it make sense? Not Trump-sense, but real sense?
- If you can, ask someone else to read it for you.
Though there are many online dictionaries, don’t forget the pocket dictionary; the physical act of looking up a word will help you remember it.
Don’t worry about being ‘bad’ at spelling: concentrate on being good at checking.
I’d love to help enhance your words. Take a look at thomasediting.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07531 061007