I recently received an interesting HubSpot blog on the topic of spelling and grammar errors in marketing and office communication with clients. The question posed was, “Should spelling just not count as much these days?”
The question alone raised the hair on the back of my neck! I couldn’t WAIT to respond with my two cents… but I did. As it turned out, it’s fine that I waited. There were over a hundred comments, (some with misspellings), ranting about how unforgivable it is to have any such errors in our internal communication with staff or our email or postal correspondence with clients. Slow down. At the very least turn spell checker on.
The truth is, the devil is in the details. If your firm can’t spell or speak intelligently, how can a client or referral source trust your firm to do anything bigger than knowing the difference between “to” and “too”?
There is a wonderful publication that I’ve subscribed to for ten years or more called “Law Office Administrator.” Inside the front cover of this printed newsletter is an article called, “On Better Communication.” It contains tips for grammar, such as how to avoid the overuse of certain words, how to use correct punctuation, and how to correctly spell the most commonly misspelled words (my pet peeve is stationary… unless your office letterhead is sitting *very still* on your desk, it should be spelled stationery.) Most of us here enjoy routing that article; it raises great discussions and reminds us all of some of the good habits we may have drifted away from.
To quote an example given in one of these Law Office Administrator articles:
- Very. Always take it out. No matter how or where it’s used, it’s better gone. It’s very hot today. I’m very tired. This concept is very difficult to explain. What does very add? Not much. The same is true for really. Really hot doesn’t make it any hotter, really tired is no more tired than tired, and difficult is no easier than really difficult.
Putting structures around us will help to make sure spelling and grammar work in what we write. Grab the old reliable Strunk and White, find blogs on writing tips, put a line item on your law firm meeting agenda to recognize something that was written well or to highlight a “tip”.
Consider developing ground rules to write by, such as:
- Spell check should always be turned on!
- Never trust auto-fill if you’re using an iPad or smart phone.
- Have someone else proof what you’ve written.
- Don’t be hard-headed about others editing your work.
- Learn from the mistakes you make and get better at it.
- Be a vigilant proofer of whatever you’re reading and coach your staff effectively.
Are there any particular hot buttons that turn your head when you open an email or proof something just before it goes out the door?
Director, Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Ave Ste 300
San Diego, CA 92123
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