Plannedscape Postings


Use Some Tech In Your Writing
Cleanup Those Unforced Errors

Posted by Charlie Recksieck on 2022-09-01
A few weeks ago, we wrote about our "Golden Rule Of Marketing" where we had two pieces of advice about writing marketing copy: 1) Don't make it too long, and 2) Don't use language that you wouldn't want to read yourself.

But when it comes to business writing there's something even more unforgiveable: poor writing.

Whether it's substandard grammar, clumsy style or simple typos, poor writing turns people away

The Cost Of Sloppy Writing

There's an interesting Josh Bernoff article from 2017 in The Daily Beast called "Bad Writing Costs Businesses Billions" which makes a case that crummy writing costs businesses a total of $400 billion dollars a year. Quantifying that exactly might be an impossible task but the article is worth a read and make some great points.

Yes, bad ad copy, internal documents and emails come with the price of making companies look less authoritative, competent and intelligent. But there are some other costs as well.

* Bad Writing Takes Longer To Read - Outstanding writing flows well and takes less time to read than tortured, labored writing. Customers don't want to spend that extra time. And internally, the time reading fellow employee emails really adds up, and the worst the writing, the more employee time lost.

* Misleading Copy Damages Your Reputation - In an article of ours last year we dove into how a sloppily written infographic claim made a company's professed ability look bogus.

No Excuses

Although you can't expect EVERY employee in your company to be an EXCELLENT writer, there is no excuse for not taking advantage of some basic writing technological tools on the job.

We had a client we don't want to mention by name who had consistently poor grammar in their newsletters and social media. In several of our consulting documents to the company, we stressed using a lot of these following tools and in-house methods. They never did take us up on those suggestions; and we never really felt comfortable saying, in so many words, "Person X is a terrible writer." Coincidentally or not, their social media and growth is still disappointing.

Three Easy (Sometimes Free) Tools

1) Microsoft Word

I think most of us have used Microsoft Word at some point, even inveterate Mac users. You should all recognize the kinds of errors that the catch in our screen capture below. Chances are you already use MS-Word, so to not take advantage of their writing assistance is insane. They've come a long way since Clippy.

Make sure you know about these MS-Word writing tools.

2) Grammarly

This great tool can be embedded into browsers to suggest writing improvements while you're in a browser or web mail. It can also be loaded onto phone OS. And can be downloaded to run on your PC to catch errors while you are working in just about any app.

Their paid version is definitely more robust, but even their free offering helps you more than even the solid tools in MS-Word.

3) AI Writers, Like Rytr

We haven't relied on apps like Rytr so much here at Plannedscape. But it's tools and similar AI apps can flat out generate the first draft content, not just correct what you've typed.

It's the wave of the future to have AI write simple copy for fairly repetitive, dull writing tasks. It won't replace human, original writing per se. But if this interests you, Google "AI writing" and kick the tires on some of these.

The free version of Rytr only lets you generate so much, like 5000 words. This article your reading is just under 800 words, so that can be plenty.

Easy Non-Tech Solutions

1) Give It A Day

Instead of writing then immediately pressing Send, try pressive Save and come back tomorrow for a quick review before sending. It's amazing how well you can become your own best editor if you give yourself some time.

2) Read It Out Loud

You might not always feel like you have the time for this, but it never fails. Reading your writing literally out loud will reveal so many things that the eye just doesn't pick up.

3) Have A Co-Worker Proofread It

Those of us in software development very early on learn that a programmer should not do his or her own code review. It has to be done by another person. In a perfect world, every email, document or ad copy that goes outside of your company should be written by one person and proofread by another. Maybe that can't be done for everything, but you could at least set a policy of doing this for important communiques.