Thursday, November 7, 2013

Damn You, Typos! Begone with You!

Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I am a stickler for detail, good grammar, and a typo-free piece of communication. I have been known to snarkily point out the errors on other people's website pages, in their social media posts, their articles . . . and restaurant menus are a particular favorite of mine. (Honestly, doesn't the Italian restaurant know how to spell "cappuccino?") I apologize in advance about my nasty habit but these things just jump out at me, begging for attention.

So it was interesting to have a few friends point out some errors of my own in a Facebook post and a vacation message on my email program. Allow me to explain.

Both were typed on my smartphone, and I was not wearing my glasses. I hate the stupid touchscreen keypad and the fact that I am far-sighted and can't see crap without my glasses! However, are these good excuses or just ... excuses?

In the case of the email vacation message, I let everyone know that "I sm out of the office until later." This is certainly not horrible in any way but it was pretty funny, given the source (moi). When my friend pointed it out I responded that perhaps I was creating a service mark for my message (and then explained the phone typing thing, no glasses, etc.).

In the case of the Facebook message, I was at a major regional shopping mall Monday night, just before closing, when a shooter entered and started firing randomly (not at people, thank goodness; turns out he was there to kill himself but he certainly scared the shoppers and brought out hundreds of police and FBI agents).

My husband and I ran into the back storage room of the shop we were in with the store manager and locked ourselves in there until we could safely exit. I hastily grabbed the phone and wrote out a Facebook post that was partially scrambled due to the errors but everyone understood the message.

Locked in back of a store in Gardem stste Plaza. Shooter in the mal. Safe for now.
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I did not realize the errors (minor, given the circumstances) until a friend who read and responded to the post pointed them out. She said I must have been shaking because of so many typos and that just wasn't like me. She is right, of course--not about the shaking (I was not) but about the errors. I had no idea of them at the time. It was not terror in the moment (although I was a bit rattled and nervous) -- again, it was a case of tiny keyboard, touchscreen, no glasses. When I got home and saw it, well, the figurative egg was on my face! I explained the situation to her.

So where does this all lead? Read your stuff before you post it! It only takes a moment to go back and make corrections. What you write, publish, and share are reflections of you, whether in a personal or professional sphere. It is not difficult to make your communication more professional by looking it over first.
  • If you are writing an article, news release, report, or other business-related document, have a colleague or professional editor/proofreader review and proofread it before it is published.
  • If you are typing on those little phones or even the more expansive tablet keypads, don't hit "Send" until you've looked over the message or the document. The same goes for any desktop email program.
  • Try copying and pasting your text into a new blank page and read it over again; sometimes the printed change of scenery helps you see things differently--and notice small mistakes.
  • Multi-tasking sucks and will lead to mistakes that you'll have to go back and correct, then re-send whatever you just wrote with a note of apology. This looks bad. For instance, avoid chatting on the phone while sending emails or documents.
  • Don't rely on spell check and MS Word's grammar/spelling correction tools -- these are not fail-safe.
  • Now that I use a smartphone and text occasionally, I see that capitalizing and punctuation is a bit of a hassle. Do it anyway. At least before you send me that message.