How Writing Errors Impact Your Professional Presence
Updated: Feb 26
An advertisement from a life coach promises to usher clients to their devine purpose in life. A lecture in a copywriting course states, “How else will you and they asses that the finished article fits the bill?” A teacher’s lesson plan reads, “Have each student too read pages 358-361 in their science books and too answer questions 1-6.”
How do feel about these errors? Would you pass them off as simple mistakes or would you question the professionalism of the writers? Other busy professionals might overlook the errors. However, potential clients considering whether or not to hire you and spend money on your services might think otherwise.
The Importance of Professional Writing
1. Writing errors make you appear untrustworthy.
Can you trust a life coach with poor spelling skills to unlock the secrets of your soul? Does it matter? Many people expect high quality service from their providers, and writing errors tend to promote distrust. Here is the prevailing thought: If you are sloppy in smaller tasks such as editing your advertisement, website or calling card, then how can your offerings be trusted? In short, writing errors generated through carelessness characterize you as unreliable, and therefore, untrustworthy.
2. Writing errors make you appear inattentive to detail.
A self-published author promoting an e-course on Facebook wrote, “Let me help you write you book this year.” Would aspiring authors truly benefit from the consult of this writer, based on the advertisement? Generally, authors and educators are held to higher communications standards and are expected to produce error-free writing. Granted, no one is perfect and many good writers are notoriously bad editors. However, when you expect others to pay for your services, the client expects a pristine, high-quality product. Inattention to seemingly inconsequential proofreading oversights might cause others to question your professionalism.
3. Writing errors make you appear uneducated.
How well educated is a teacher who confuses the preposition/infinitive, adverb and numeral to, too and two? Misspellings are one thing, but errors caused by misuse of words indicate a fundamental inability to use the English language correctly. Essentially, you should have learned basic grammar in school. As an educated adult, how could these simple rules have eluded you? In professional settings, written communication indicates your perceived level of intelligence and thoughtfulness.
In his article, How Spelling Mistakes and Bad E-mail Etiquette Can Help You Get Ahead, Kevin Roose suggests that improperly worded or misspelled emails constitute strategic sloppiness - a power play in which the writer asserts dominance over the receiver. Basically, the writer is too much of a top boss to care about properly written documents.
No. No. No. Most people receiving an email from an executive rife with errors would think, “Wow, I thought this person was smarter than this email suggests.” Deficient writers are perceived as less than smart, whether or not this characterization is true or fair.
No matter how small, writing errors make you seem untrustworthy, inattentive to detail and uneducated. Although some count writing errors as simple typos, many perceive them as indictments against your skills and abilities, which could potentially cost you clients and money in the long run. In considering your business goals and how others perceive your professional presence, sometimes it pays to hire an affordable editor!
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Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. She is a proud graduate of the Donaghey Scholars Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock under the direction of Dr. C. Earl Ramsey, Emeritus. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers online writing and communications courses for personal and professional development to individuals and corporations. She is also a published author of several nonfiction books on grammar, writing, proofreading, copyediting, and inspiration for women. To see more of Ashan's work, visit: www.arhampton.com.
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