April 15, 2016 Does Grammer Really Matter in a Digital World?
Notice something funny in the title — a misspelled word, perhaps? As a strategic communications writer (Alix) and editor (Kelly) for Leapfrog Solutions, Inc., we both answer the question with: yes, of course grammar matters. But just how much?
We recently heard about a colleague — let’s call her Sally — who published a blog post containing content pasted from another company’s press release. Immediately after, a friend pointed out a missing word, and then a run-on sentence and other small errors. Sally claimed that since the release came from a “credible source” — who, by the way, already sent it to hundreds of media contacts — she didn’t think to carefully read it for editorial errors. She just assumed there weren’t any.
But Sally posted the release, the friend explained, so any errors reflected poorly on her writing and Sally herself, not on the person who originally wrote it.
Should Sally go back to fix the errors, or should she leave them alone and move on?
This is a big question in online publishing: How often do we need to diligently follow the rubrics of grammar, dotting every I and crossing every T? Because there’s another side to publishing content online — one that Voltaire hit on way back in the 18th century: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Sally read about a company’s product, thought it’d be interesting to her intended audience, and posted her thoughts while the information was still relevant. In the digital world, that kind of timing is often more important than flawless content.
When it comes to online publishing: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
While it’s great to take care with what you’re writing to limit errors and maintain your credibility, don’t let it hinder you from ever posting. You may not be the best writer to put pen to paper, but the wide world of the Web is far more lenient in allowing you to clean things up later. Even while on the horn with that friend who’s pointing out the error of your ways.
Fearing that her credibility was on the line, Sally waited a few hours before eventually updating her post, thankful that, while the experience was embarrassing, somebody cared enough to call her out on it.
And there’s your lesson: if you try too hard to be flawless, your readers may not ever actually read what you’ve got to say. Cast a spell over your readers by telling a story or starting a conversation in such a way that they may not even notice the words (or the typos) they’re taking in.
And if they do find mistakes, you can always edit them out later.