The One-Button Fix for Better Writing.
This is the first of my posts aimed at business writing. As the first, I thought I’d start with the easiest, quickest thing you can do to improve your communication. This is a trick that’s not just useful for marketing writing, but something you can, and should, use for just about any piece of writing you do from emails to fiction to blogs to (especially) term papers.
So what is this magic thing that can automatically improve your writing?
That’s it. One-button. When you press F7 in Microsoft Office applications on a PC (Word, Outlook, even Excel), it runs the spell-check.
I also use a Mac in addition to my PC, so for all of you with iMacs or MacBooks, it’s slightly more involved, but still worth the effort. Apple people just need to press command + option + L in Word.
“But does anyone really care about spelling?” you ask?
Fair question. But the answer is yes, and I think people care more about spelling than they really know, and let me tell you why.
Why spelling does matter:
Look at it this way: the whole point of writing something for someone else to see is that you have something to say and you want them to get it. But having misspellings all through your email makes your reader concentrate harder than he should have to. Misspellings are like mumbling on paper – they slow down communication, occasionally even undermining the actual message.
On top of that, an email that looks like you typed it while wearing boxing gloves tells your reader that you couldn’t be bothered to make your message easily understandable. And if you couldn’t be bothered to write it, they’re left wondering why they should be bothered to read it.
And if you’re writing anything for school, spell-check is a must. Misspelled words are the easiest things for teachers mark off, and the easiest things for you to fix. Don’t make it easy on your teachers, people! Press F7 and make them really read what you’re saying.
Now, I must admit that I don’t always press F7 myself. But I always do when I’m writing an email for work. Or a sales promotion. Or a letter with a short story submission. And certainly when I’m writing that short story.
I don’t always do it when I’m sending my friend an email about meeting at happy hour, and (the horror!) there are occasional misspellings in there. But he’ll forgive me because he knows I was more worried about drinking $2 Guinness drafts than capitalizing them.
And no, spell-check doesn’t catch everything. And it can mistake one word for another. But it’s a good start and an insanely easy way to clean up your writing. Trust me, people. Spell-check is a wonderful thing and well worth the six seconds it takes.