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March 2017 Volume 13 Issue 3

The Write Stuff

March 2017  Volume 13 Issue 3

 

Does Good Writing Even Matter?

For many years, employers have lamented that college graduates often lack good writing skills. Combined with the rising popularity of social media, and the fact that many people don’t care to read, it begs the question: does good writing even matter?

I’ve had people send me articles making the argument that it doesn’t — and while it may sound self-serving, given my profession — I’m squarely on the opposite side of that argument. The art of letter-writing might be dying and folks may rarely put pen to paper, but the professional arena is where writing continues to matter.

Poor writing can derail your job prospects and stymie the advancement of your career. And, businesses can suffer mightily due to substandard writing; they may lose out on contracts, turn off potential clients, and even make their brand the butt of jokes. (Have you ever seen publicmisspelled as pubic?)

I know I’m not likely to do business with companies that have poorly written websites — but I wondered if non-writers would feel the same, so I asked 10 people:

If you found a potential vendor’s website was poorly written, would you do business with that company?

Granted, this is a very unscientific study, but here is how they answered:

  • 2 – probably/maybe
  • 4 – probably not
  • 4 – no

Yes! This proves my point; poor writing can be a business killer. (Think I would have aired the results if it went the other way?)

The eight people who responded probably not and noexplained why almost identically: if a business doesn’t take the time to make sure its website reads well, clearly gets the message across, and is free of typos, how can I be sure it will do a good job for me?

When’s the last time you reviewed your website? Is it helping your business — or harming it? Good writing definitely matters!

Options Abound

I’ve cautioned you before about believing everything suggested by Microsoft Word’s grammar checker. Many times it is flat out wrong, and sometimes it suggests one of two perfectly OK options. For instance, when I typed the phrase more subtle, Word suggested I use subtler instead. Neither is incorrect, and I chose my original verbiage because it sounded better in context.

Should You Say Something?

 

Every single day, I see writing mistakes: misused words, misspelled words, unclear copy and more. Do I point out errors in emails, on websites and in other materials that cross my desk? No — not unless someone has asked me to do so. I realized a long time ago that there’s a fine line between providing helpful advice and coming off as a grammar snob, and I never want to be labeled as the latter.

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