Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Relying on your spell checker and other common email errors

I can’t believe I wrote ‘Dead John’ instead of ‘Dear John’ to my customer.

Have you ever made a mistake like this?

A woman in my business writing class said she typed ‘Dead’ instead of ‘Dear’ in the salutation of an email to an important customer, and her spell checker didn’t indicate that she had used the wrong word. She learned the hard way that spell checkers do not replace your good brain. You still need to proofread all you’re documents! (And yes, that’s a deliberate error to underscore the point that spell checkers won’t necessarily catch words that are spelled correctly but erroneously used.)

My seminar participant was embarrassed about the mistake, which is one of the lesser costs of having errors in your emails. Others can be loss of business, alienated clients, or a damaged reputation.  You don’t want any of these consequences affecting you and your career.

In addition to relying solely on your spell checker, here are other common mistakes to avoid:

1. Misspelling someone’s name. Many people are offended if you spell their name incorrectly in the salutation. Check for the correct spelling in the person’s signature block. Copy and paste the name to make sure you are spelling it correctly. Checking the “To” line also can be helpful, as people’s first and/or last names are often in their addresses.

 2. Sending an email to the wrong person. When you start to type an address in the “To” box, your device may suggest names from your contact list.  Make sure you pay attention when using this feature (Auto-Complete List). It’s easy to click on the wrong person when names are similar. 

3. Not proofing the subject line. Errors in the subject line really stand out, yet it is easy to forget to check this section of an email because it’s not part of your message.

4. Typing numbers incorrectly. Misplacing a decimal point or transposing numbers can be very costly. In addition to double-checking any numbers, you need to check any phone numbers you have included in the body of the email.

5. Accidentally sending an email before you have finished checking the document. Remember my acronym AIL. AIL stands for Address In Last. You put the recipient’s address in the “To” box after you have finished writing and proofing the message. You can’t send an email without an address.

Additional information on writing and proofing emails can be found in my new book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes (McGraw Hill).

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on communication, business writing, presentation skills, professional presence, and etiquette. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at or 856.751.6141. (

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