Expect the unexpected and avoid mistakes

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 11:49 AM

I’m always baffled when I ask for a black coffee in a café or restaurant and get the response, “Would you like milk with that?”I had an even more perplexing experience at the checkout of a shop recently.Bored looking assistant: “Would you like a receipt?”

Me: “No thank you.”

Bored looking assistant: “Here’s your receipt”.

I think it’s because people anticipate the answer and hear what they want to hear.  So what does this have to do with writing?  Quite a lot actually.

It’s all too easy to see what we expect when we read through something we’ve written. That can lead to mistakes, some of them horribly embarrassing.

I knew someone who, while trying to dig their company out of a hole, made a bad situation worse by apologising for their incontinence instead of incompetence.

While not all errors will be quite so awful, too many slips of punctuation, spelling, and typos will make you look sloppy. So always thoroughly check your copy, even emails, before you send it out.

It’s really not that easy though. We are too close to our business, service or products to spot every error in our copy.  By the time I’ve finished a website or article for a client, I’m as close to it as they are.

Although I proofread copy written by other people, I always advise clients to get my copy proofread by someone outside of the business.  Or better still, by another professional proofreader.

Rona Wheeldon, The Organised PA,is a great proofreader, and she loves it too.  She’s not paying me by the way.  Nor am I trying to grovellingly apologise to her for anything. I just happen to think she is very good at what she does.

I’m by no means immune which is why I get Rona to proofread my newsletters.

Warning: over-used devices can drastically damage your copy | Why bad business writing is like a cheap sandwich

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Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. And speaking of useful - scroll down and take a look at the Oxford Dictionaries tool.

Click here to find out a bit more about me.

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