Compelling Copywriter Bulletin no. 3 – Spelling Demons

I know I’ve said it before but it’s true, that the image of you and your business is reflected in everything you do. You may well ask what has this got to do with copywriting and business communications? Lots. Research has shown a single spelling error can cut on-line sales by 50 percent? And three out of 10 web visitors will leave a website if it contains copywriting errors. More compelling is this:

Copywriting errors significantly influence prospective buyers opinions about a business and 57 percent of them would eliminate a prospective company from their list if a print brochure contained just one error.

So let’s talk about commonly misspelled words and ways to handle them. Some words in English are challenging to spell and are often referred to as “spelling demons.” (One meaning of demon is “something that is persistently annoying.”)
These are words whose spelling always causes us a problem. The following strategies are designed to help you deal with the spelling of any troublesome word.

Strategies for Dealing with Difficult-to-Spell Words

Keep a list of words you misspell. Did you know that about 3,000 words comprise 98 percent of the words people need to learn to write? Many of the common words in English–even little words–can be tricky to spell. Keep a list of those that cause you problems. These are your ‘spelling demons’

To the list, add other words you misspell or that cause difficulty. Write them in the correct place alphabetically so they will be easy to find. Identifying and keeping such a list is the first step in learning and memorising them. Compile your “target list” from:

  • Words you stumble over or even avoid using when you write.
  • Words marked as spelling errors on returned papers or tests.
  • Words whose spelling you have to look up.
  • Words you have trouble locating in the dictionary because of the spelling.
  • Words you spell more than one way.
  • Words that confuse you when you are reading.

Be sure you pronounce words correctly. The correct pronunciation is an important first step in the correct spelling of words.

  • Don’t add extra syllables: for example, athlete (not ath- e -lete), umbrella (not um-ber-ella), laundry (not laund- e -ry).
  • Don’t leave out syllables or letter sounds: for example, mathematics (not mathmatics), probably (not probly), laboratory (not labratory), chocolate (not choclate), literature (not litachure), temperature (not tempachure), misspell (not mispell) February , (not Febuary), library (not libary), accidentally, (not accidently), and government (not goverment).
  • Don’t reverse letters: for example, p re scription (not p er scription), rel ie ve (not releive), their (not thier).