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Don’t get tripped up!

A professional impression counts more than ever!

Potential customers and influencers will judge your capabilities and attention to quality based on written communications. Don’t let spelling, grammar or punctuation errors undermine your professionalism or credibility by conveying sloppiness or lack of attention to detail.

Here are some of the trouble spots that I see and clean up when editing; they don’t have to trip you up!

The apostrophe. It’s just a little curve that throws people a curve. Here are some tips to help you avoid common errors:

Don’t use the apostrophe to make words plural. Don’t do it! Correct: “cats” ... “papayas” ... “The Smiths” ... “Employees Only” ... “Camrys” — No apostrophe before adding the “s” or “es.” Same thing for acronyms: “CEOs” ... numbers or dates: “the 1920s” — no apostrophe.

The only exception is for plurals of a single letter. Mind your p’s and q’s. The Oakland A’s.

Quotation marks
Should only be used for a direct quote, the first time you introduce an unfamiliar term, or a foreign word. Do not use quotation marks to emphasize your company’s theme line or tagline. Use boldface type, a different font or underlining instead.

It’s vs. Its
Usage depends on what you’re trying to say. If you intend a contraction of “it is,” the apostrophe takes the place of the “i” in “is.” Are you trying to convey ownership or belonging? “The dog chased its own tail.” No apostrophe.

Your vs. You’re
Does something belong to you? Y-O-U-R. Are you combining the words “You are”? Ex: “You’re headed down the wrong path.” You need the apostrophe to take the place of the missing “a” in are.

Their, There and They’re
Does the house belong to several people? It’s their house. Is it a location? You’ll find it there. Or is it a contraction of “They are?” They’re going home.

Incorrectly used or invented words:
“Verbiage” — Sometimes used erroneously as a synonym for written text or copy. By definition, verbiage means “an excess of words, especially in writing or speech with little or no meaning.” By definition, verbiage cannot be punchy!

“Verbage” — A particularly cringe-inducing bastardization of “verbiage” (see above) — NOT marketing jargon. If you’re talking about what you need written, that would be “copy” or “text” or “content.”

There are many tools at your disposal. Use them. Word processing and email spell check programs aren’t infallible, but they will catch a lot of errors. If you’re not sure about something, look it up. (Or let Copy Kinetics do a quick proof for you!)

After all, you don’t want to be the featured example on the Facebook page I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar ...

Check out these helpful books and Web sites for reference.