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Be Careful Little Words How You Spell


Written by:
2011/05/19 08:28 AM RssIcon

Spelling is probably one of the most difficult and frustrating things for me when it comes to writing. Is it the same for you? It could actually be the downfall of your blog.

I suffer from dyslexia, so that does not help the situation. But the problem is that readers won’t know that, they just see  badly spelled copy.

I got an email this week from Tiffany Markman about spelling. As you can imagine it struck a note within me. She was not trying to be funny, but supplied three easy steps to improve your spelling.

Bad spelling sticks out

Bad spelling whether by mistake or ignorance creates bad impressions. Bad spelling sticks out like a sore thumb. As Tiffany points out, it creates an impression of either cluelessness or carelessness. Both which are bad for your and my reputation as a writer.

My wife is one who cannot stand bad spelling. I often don’t recognise bad spelling as you might well expect. But badly spelled words stick out and almost slap her in the face. She cringes with disgust. Especially if it is a big corporate which has publicly published something that is badly spelled.

Do not rely on a spell checker

Spell checkers in word processors like Microsoft Word have been a godsend to me. It quickly highlights the badly spelled words, which I can easily correct. But relying on a spell checker alone is a big mistake. They can only do so much.

In her email, Tiffany relates a true story of a near disastrous mistake. She nearly let go to print 1500 diaries with the words in big bold letters, “Pubic Holidays

Even in my spell checker as I write this, there were no red flags. Why not? Well because “Pubic” is not spelled incorrectly.

You see spell checkers do not understand meaning. You might well have meant “pubic holidays”, or you might have actually meant “Public Holidays

But who is to know. Only you know, and perhaps we could tell by the context. But Word processors like MS Word and spell checkers have no clue.

Our brain often substitutes the correct spelling and meaning. This is more prevalent when we consciously rely too much on spell checkers.

So don’t rely too much on spell checkers. Remember they are just another tool to aid you.

Three easy tips to improve spelling

Thanks to Tiffany, I will relate her three easy steps to improve your spelling. As I read through her email, I found that it made so much sense. I felt obliged to share it with you.

  1. Read your copy backwards


    Because our brains substitute what we read with what we want to read, it is a good idea to read your copy backwards. That way, you do not read it for meaning and context, but actually for each individual words. This helps to catch a lot of mistakes.

    Start at the bottom right of your text and read backwards till you get to the beginning. Remember you’re not trying to understand what you are reading, you’re trying to catch mistakes.

  2. Create a list of difficult words

    Do you have some difficult words that no matter how hard you try you can’t spell correctly. We all do. Some more than others.

    Put together a list of those difficult words, correctly spelled and paste it up somewhere. Then you can easily glance over when you need to spell one of those “demon words”.

    Now my list is rather large!

  3. Watch our for Americanisation

    This is not a poke at our American friends. Some people are just different and there is nothing wrong with that. But this applies to mainly South African and British reader and writer.

    I suppose you could apply this to any culture that is very similar but has slight differences.

    We all know that Americans spell differently. But if you are not American then don’t adapt their spelling. If you are South African or British spell the words correctly.

    If you are American, then I would encourage you to spell as an American. The point is write from your own culture.

    Use ‘colour’ not ‘color’, ‘favourite’, not ‘favorite’. ‘Analyse’, not ‘analyze’. ‘Centre’, not ‘center’. ‘Judgement’, not ‘judgment’. ‘Licence’, not ‘license’. ‘Programme’, not ‘program’. ‘Jewellery’, not ‘jewelry’, etc.

    Wikipedia has a brief overview of UK vs US spelling at


Spelling might not be a big issue to you and me, but to many others it is. Bad spelling can make you look very unprofessional and damage your reputation as well.

So be careful about your choice of words and how you spell them.

Visit Tiffany's web site at TiffanyMarkman

What words do you often spell incorrectly? Let us know about your spelling horrors in the comments below.

Related Reading:

What in the world am I doing, I'm dyslexic

Writing For The Web: Don’t Use Big Words

Does any one understand the new Twitter vocabulary

Why you have no traffic – Because your content sucks


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