Spelling: It’s a Matter of Pubic Safety

I’m an occasional ranter. I’ll cop to that. And one of my most common rants is about lack of attention to detail. Little things. Like spelling. Punctuation. Grammar. You know the stuff.

I am old. That is undeniable. But back in the day, we had teachers who drilled the importance of attention to detail – little things like correct spelling, punctuation and grammar – into us until we had no choice but to learn the stuff. And as a result of their due diligence, I’m one helluva speller. Dictionary.com is just about my favorite (and most frequently visited) website on the planet. Words With Friends is my favorite iPhone app and proofreading is a task about which I am freakishly obsessed. Oh yeah, my staff hates me. But I’m obsessive about the quality of work that we do and the impression that creates.

Can you imagine the horror at realizing your firm was responsible for delivering this creative product? I’m a hard ass (is that one word, or two?) I’m the first to admit it. But I can’t imagine this happening. Ever.

I have many friends who are bloggers and many others who are business professionals and charged with the task of communicating, in writing, on a daily basis. And many of them routinely misuse words like “their” and “there” and “your” and “you’re” and apparently also believe that any time a word ends in an “s” that an apostrophe belongs in there. They may be nice people, but in my book, that’s just dumb — or maybe it’s ignorant. Or lazy. Whatever you want to call it, there’s no excuse for it. Not when it comes to delivering for people who pay you good money to get it right. Whether it’s your client or your boss.

I know this is a hard line and, don’t get me wrong, I am so not perfect. I make mistakes on a regular basis. We all do. But I strive, on a daily basis, to never forget that details matter. Every. Single. Time. And proper spelling and grammar are – and should be – at the top of the list of details that everyone in the business of generating content — of any nature — cares about.

I hope these folks who produced the billboard learned a lesson. It has to totally and completely suck to be them right now.

  • http://twitter.com/ianglang ianglang

    Punctuation saves lives ;) http://www.v3im.com/2010/09/spelling-its-a-matter-of-pubic-safety/ <-love those ones too.

  • http://twitter.com/doylealbee Doyle Albee

    Are you sure it's a typo? :-)

  • ShellyKramer

    You're a funny, funny guy. And, now that you mention it — no!

  • ShellyKramer

    Why yes. Yes it does!!! That made me snort coffee. For the record.

  • Alex

    Admittedly, since I work in PUBLIC relations, I have always been hypervigilant about the “pubic” mistake, but there really is no excuse for this. Not to be too much of a stickler, but would it kill sign companies to hire actual dedicated proofreaders? The daily dose of extra apostrophes, misused grammatical symbols and just plain bad spelling you get driving down any American street is depressing.

  • givinguponperfect

    Ohhhhhh! I saw this earlier today, and it just makes me cringe. I've worked as a proofreader, so the thought of somehow (seriously? HOW?) missing this mistake actually makes my stomach hurt. And professionals who can't tell the difference between “its” and “it's” or “their” and “they're” and “there” drive me crazy! And I won't even admit to being old yet! :)

  • ShellyKramer

    Mary … I am still shaking my head. But I can't even count how many people I have spoken to about this kind of thing who just don't think it matters all that much. Seriously???? How does accuracy not matter? Oh, don't get me started.

    Thanks for coming by — and for letting me know I'm not the only obsessive freak out there!

  • ShellyKramer

    “hypervigilant” …. impressive.

    And I agree. Beyond depressing!

  • http://www.redheadwriting.com The Redhead

    Holy shirt.

  • http://amyoscar.com Amy Oscar

    All I can say is, dopes.

  • http://amyoscar.com Amy Oscar

    And I think I punctuated that incorrectly, didn't I?

  • http://www.vongehrconsulting.com/ Erroin Martin

    Things like this remind me of a time when I worked for a company that was promoting a $25 gift card after taking a quick survey. The agency that contracted the toll free number on the card for the survey printed the wrong one. It is funny what one misplaced numeral can do for a 1-800 number… It was a different kind of survey… need I say more?

  • http://www.vongehrconsulting.com/ Erroin Martin

    Things like this remind me of a time when I worked for a company that was promoting a $25 gift card after taking a quick survey. The agency that contracted the toll free number on the card for the survey printed the wrong one. It is funny what one misplaced numeral can do for a 1-800 number… It was a different kind of survey… need I say more?

  • ShellyKramer

    If you had any idea how much I scrutinized that post before publishing, because I knew that it would be Murphy's Law that I would make a mistake … you would know how much this made me laugh. I'm a great speller. A fairly good grammarian. And decent when it comes to punctuation. All of which means that I didn't even notice!!!

  • ShellyKramer

    This may be the best reply. Ever.

  • ShellyKramer

    Oh my goodness. And what a sticky situation THAT was, huh?

  • http://www.confessionsofasocialmediamamapreneur.blogspot.com/ AlexisCeule

    I am more alarmed that the content passed over 4 pairs of eyes and still… no one else caught it. Shameful!

  • http://twitter.com/erinlynn76 erinlynn76

    I can't tell you how many times a blog post turns me off because I catch a grammatical error in the first sentence or two. I'm a stickler like that, & you know this. But you're so right and this is all SO IMPORTANT. I wonder where everyone was in 3rd or 4th grade when we covered these kinds of things?

    LOL re: Ericka's comment!!!!

  • http://www.idanceiwrite.com idanceiwrite

    hilarious. and yes. agree!

  • http://twitter.com/rhogroupee Rosemary O'Neill

    Yes, it totally matters. I read a TON of blogs, and if I catch a simple spelling or grammatical error, it makes me wonder about the content's accuracy as well. I've even unsubscribed to a couple of my faves because I just couldn't take it anymore. I also try to stress the importance to our new hires…I usually make them write an essay (no matter what the position) during the hiring process, just so that we can uncover communication weaknesses up front.

  • Leo

    Thank you for being an old, cranky hard ass (two words!). Oh yeah, #booyah!

  • Sophielhoste

    That is smart!

  • http://www.attunementsforthesoul.com/ Sophie Lhoste

    No you are not the only one Shelly! I only started learning English at 11 but I cannot stand to find mistakes in what I publish. In ANY language! I think accurate details in our written word are akin to addressing each other in a respectful tone when we speak.
    Thank you for this refreshing post!

  • http://www.randomshelly.com/blog/ Shelly

    Classic!

    Love Erika's comment and that you so carefully checked your post (I didn't catch any errors btw)

    I play WWF #justsaying.

  • http://twitter.com/cherrywoodburn Cherry Woodburn

    My gut says it was done purposely by somebody along the chain. Another prankster without the serious consequences.

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