If you’re a writer who has trouble with spelling and you think you always will, here’s some good news for you. Spelling isn’t a function of intelligence, it’s a function of memory.
If you’re able to memorize the words to a song, a poem, or favorite lines from a movie, you can become a better speller.
Some people either think spelling isn’t important or they don’t take time to do a thorough proofreading to find mistakes before they hit “send.”
But spelling still counts. Misspelled words can cause readers to question the writer’s credibility.
For example, I recently received an email from an editor who was reminding a group of writers to stick to established deadlines. He wrote, “Submit your articles and photos according to the schedule I sent Monday. Early is appreciated but not at the risk of submitting inferior work. Late is not appreciated, even if your name is Hemmingway.”
Other business writers rely on their computer’s spell checker to catch their spelling errors. But that doesn’t always work. A spell checker won’t catch typos that happen to be another word (fist, first) and it won’t catch errors with a misused word (they’re, their, there).
In my business writing workshops I ask for real examples that participants have seen in others’ writing. Members of the recruiting team at a software company shared with me these actual lines from cover letters sent by job applicants:
“I saw your add in the local newspaper.”
“I want to work at your company allot.”
“Thanks for your patients.”
“I really want to get a head in this business.”
I think the last example is an especially good one.
Here are six tips for improving your spelling:
- Make a list of the words you misspell or look up most often. (You do look up the words you don’t know how to spell, right?)
- Make sure you know what a word means before you write it. (Yup. Use the dictionary again.)
- If you can’t find the word in a dictionary, look up a synonym (another word that means the same thing). Chances are you’ll find the word there.
- Picture the word in your mind as you write it.
- Pronounce words correctly when you speak them (like affect versus effect).
- Use memory tricks to help with spelling, for example:
Personal = 1 person; personnel = a group
Argument = I lost an “e” in that argument
Dilemma = In the dilemma was “Emma”
Stationary with an “a” means standing
Stationery with an “e” is used for writing letters
Do you have any good memory tricks to help with spelling? Please add them here.