Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


How To Avoid Mistakes In Your Writings

A woman in one of my classes wrote: If you want to be proffessional, you shouldn’t let your tattoos show in the office. I politely responded that “if you want to be professional, you need to spell professional correctly!”

Having mistakes in your emails can diminish your credibility and affect your professional standing in the workplace. I am amazed that I receive so many documents that have spelling and/or grammar errors.

Consider these recent examples:

· My boss has taken my project from me bc of some typos on my post. I don't feel this is right... I would any advice you may have...I have only been a professional for 3years and I don't always knw HOW to handle situations like this. (This young person should be grateful that he is learning the consequences of poor writing early in his career.)

· People don’t know how to spell anymore, or know proper grammar skills, it won’t help thim in life. (This writer needs to learn that his own writings should be free of errors before he criticizes others!)

No one is perfect, and just about everyone may make a mistake now and then. Still, if your emails routinely have mistakes, or if they contain significant errors like the examples above, your reputation will suffer.

The following suggestions will help you to avoid making mistakes:

· Read your message out loud syll-a-ble by syll-a-ble. If you read the words slowly, you will often hear any mistakes. And if you can, proof your writings on hard copy. It’s easier to spot your errors that way.

· Have someone else proof your writings. It is easier for other people to catch your mistakes, as they read what you have written with fresh eyes.

· Double-check any numbers. Make sure you have the commas and periods in the right places. It can be very costly – literally – if you make a mistake. A man wrote that he paid $20000 for his software program. Did he mean to say $20,000 or $200.00?

· Type the email address last. This way, you cannot send your email until you are sure it is error-free.

· Follow the “always look for one” concept. This means that when you are proofing your writings, you should keep looking until you find an error. And if you don’t find one on the first round of proofing, keep looking until you do (or until you are absolutely sure your work is error-free). It is easy to miss errors unless you have a strategy for finding them.

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Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette and communication for organizations worldwide. Contact Joyce Hoff at 856.751.6141 or for more information.


  1. Anonymous3/01/2013

    From A Reader:
    Interesting points. I wonder with all the texting, what writing skills will be like in the years to come.

  2. When I can't get someone else to proof my work, I also proof backwards which helps keep me from being immune to my own mistakes. I just start at the bottom of the document and read right to left one word at a time. Thanks for a great post!!

  3. Anonymous3/04/2013

    From A Reader:
    Ideally, you have a trusted copyeditor. For going on ten years, I've been most fortunate to have the most incredible copyeditor who goes into the admin of my Web site to edit the Q&As before posting them in my archives. I am so fortunate to have a copyeditor who is as obsessed about etiquette and manners as I am. In discussions such as this, where she's not watching my back, I use Google to check for proper word usage and to fact check as well as spellcheck when LinkedIn doesn't know the word. I'm sure my copyeditor would find lots to correct in this comment.

  4. Anonymous3/07/2013

    From A Reader:
    I have an editor who dogs my every written word, except here! It's so important to come across professionally! Great topic, Barbara!

  5. Anonymous3/07/2013

    From A Reader:
    Whenever I am unsure as to whether something is written well enough, I read it out loud. Often several times until is sounds right. Sometimes in airports I get lost in what I'm writing and look up to see that someone noticed I had been 'talking' to my laptop! We smile and go about our business.

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