Grammar is know good

Why is there so much emphasis placed on spelling, punctuation and grammar?

I get it. I know as communicators it is our job to communicate with accuracy, but is my career over if i send out a press release with a misplaced punctuation mark? I’m sure I feel so strongly on the matter because it is one of the areas I struggle in, but I also feel that people just care too much about it.

As a student my marks often suffer do to poor editing. I feel that content is far more important then anything else, but time and time again grammar proves to be my worst enemy.

We are currently writing targeted resumes and we are reminded to be sure to proofread, as if employers see one error they are likely to toss our resume in the trash. I mean, really? I know it is a part of PR, but if my comma is in the wrong place I immediately don’t get the job? I may be over exaggerating, but for someone who struggles when it comes to proofing, its terrifying. I’ve spent hours looking at my resume trying to perfect it, and I still don’t know if it’s good enough.

It’s not that I can’t edit. I have the books, I’m a pretty smart young lady, I can figure it out. I did get a b+ in copy editing. I just have a hard time correcting my own work. I print it out, sleep on it and edit the next day and still I seem to somehow not notice all the mistakes.

Maybe I’m just being dramatic. So consider this a disclaimer: This is my blog. It may not be perfect, but its mine. If you notice a mistake, please do not comment about it (unless it’s huge and embarrassing). If I have to obsess about grammar in every aspect of my life, my blog grants my immunity of all grammatical errors. So please, comment away, and if you feel like spelling something wrong, this is the place to do it.

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About ramsayramsay

I am a 24 year old public relations student at Centennial College and have a degree from Brock University in communications. I love to read, travel and spend time with friends and family. I enjoy writing am excited to share my thoughts on PR, social media and everyday life.

Posted on January 21, 2008, in blogs, grammar, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Man, I love disclaimers : )

    As far as I can tell, you totally get it, Megan–just as you said. I don’t think a misplaced comma will result in your termination from whatever lovely position you’re bound to land, but I think there are many mistakes that could do just that. It’s all about knowing what your company values the most. Of course they all value good writing, but some grammatical errors would surely be unforgivable.

    Think of the example Miranda pointed out in Christine’s class today (that she stole from me! Haha.). If the e-mail’s sender was still with McGraw-Hill and produced something that left the hyphen out of the company’s name, I think she would be in trouble. (How’s that for a terrible sentence? Yikes.)

    Don’t worry, Meg. I got yo back : )

  2. The emphasis placed on editing skills can definitely be frightening and although the example of tossing out a resume due to punctuation errors does seem a bit extreme, I have seen it been done. BUT, don’t fret megs – you are surrounded by 44 budding communicators who are extremely supportive of one another. Hopefully it will bring peace of mind to know that peer-edtiing is a GREAT way to have those errors you don’t catch gotten taken care of and that you can always ask for help.

    I got five people to edit my resume/cover letter assignment (although I am still paranoid that there are mistakes), and not only do you get a hopefully error-free finished product, but you will expand your vocabulary and style of writing as well.

  3. It seems extreme, but making an error makes the recruiter’s job easier. You just give them a silly excuse to remove you from the runnings. Simple as that.

    When you have a job, well.. I don’t think you’ll lose it over a news release with a misplaced comma, or even something more severe (so long as it’s not hurting the company image). I can’t imagine a news headline saying “PR Firm hires employees with poor editing skills” coming from a news release about something completely different. That said, you may not get the coverage you hoped for if you have glaring grammatical errors.

    Like Gary said over and over again, some people are sticklers for grammar, and you want them to focus on the content of your writing, not the quality of your copy editing. So make sure the quality is high and those folks don’t have anything to complain about (aside from the pressure building in their large intestine).

  4. Megan, I couldn’t be happier that you’ve posted this.

    I too get very discouraged at the prospect of “suffering” because of a lack of perfect grammar skills. When an individual possesses every skill necessary to complete a task or a job, is grammar really that important?

    What I don’t get is that these so-called perfect grammatical skills are really the job of an editor. Of course it is important to know how to write and know when to use “it’s” instead of “its”. But I am not entering a career in editing. I am not looking to become an editor. So, if someone else will be making a career of fixing my mistakes, why is it so vital that I perfect this skill?

    Now, poor sentence structure, that I can understand. I am still curious how people graduate from university incapable of structuring a proper sentence.
    But, as you said, “a misplaced punctuation mark”, or two, should not be the reason I am not hired. After all, everybody makes mistakes. Right?

  5. We need to talk — Super Word Nerd

  6. I used to be an editor at a magazine. After years on the job, I would get query letters from people wanting to write for the magazine addressed to the former editor.

    My response was always the same: If you can’t be bothered to get the current editor’s name when you’re trying to GET the job, why would I trust you bother to get the facts right when you’re writing the piece?

    A comma out of place or a teeny error isn’t a big issue. But think of it as the equivalent of going to an interview with spinach in your teeth or your fly undone. The more teeny errors, the less trust you instill in the person you’re trying to impress.

    I’m having fun going through these student blogs, hope to visit them all eventually.

    Best of luck,

    BLeD

  7. Hey Megan,

    Glad you posted this! I agree with you. I think it’s ridiculous to not hire someone because of a simple error, or something so small that it would just as easily go unnoticed. That said however, I hate having to read a story or email filled with errors.

    Which is why I also agree with Rick. Many times, HR departments or communication managers get so many resumes for a position, that even small errors can be a big help in weeding out the applicants.

    However, companies need to take into account that they might have just overlooked a person with a good sense of humour, great work ethic, and great skills to hire someone with good grammar and punctuation and nothing else!

    In the end, I hope that whoever I apply with will see me as more than the sum total of my commas and periods and where I put them!

  8. The president of the company I work for once told me “Your spelling will be your down fall” Then the next day he couldn’t tell me what a synonym vs. antonym. Thank goodness for the Google tool bar! We all have to read, then re-read more.

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