Crafting a Credible Message – It’s No Time for LOL

September 2, 2011

What r we 2 make of 2days way of writin? Not much if you care! Today’s writing shortcuts are fine for tapping a quick text message out to your friends, but when writing for a larger audience – especially when you’re writing professionally to represent your organization – it’s still vital that you use correct, proper English.

You might read in other places these days, or even hear from supposed experts at seminars, that proper grammar and spelling doesn’t matter anymore, especially in places like social media venues. Does that seem reasonable to you? When you read something representing a professional source, be it a business or an association like ASCE, does it bother you when there’s a mistake?

Of course it does. Why? It’s all about credibility – getting your readers to respect your message (and perhaps even take action) by making sure your prose is as polished as possible. Credibility matters, including to people who lean on today’s shorthand ways of writing. Errors have a way of jumping out to readers, even to those whose own command of English isn’t that great.

Be sure that what you’ve written uses proper grammar and spelling. Don’t get hung up on correct usage to the point it interferes with your ability to compose your message. Just make time to check your work for accuracy afterward. Quick tip: don’t rely completely on “spellcheck” or suggested grammar corrections in Word or other software. When in doubt, do an online search. Also, it still pays to have a dictionary handy. To check your grammar, the classic “Elements of Style” by Strunk and White never lose their credibility.

Errors matter – don’t let anyone tell you differently. Don’t let them intrude on or hamper the ability of your message to be as effective as you intend!

What error do you see most commonly?  Has email suffered the text message shorthand syndrome?

What’s your opinion on shorthand writing these days?

John Marston,

Manager, Digital Media Communications

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