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September 8, 2015

Why Spelling and Grammar Matter in Marketing

bad_spellingA guest post by Debra Semans. Based in Atlanta, Debra, is the lead writer for Harpeth Marketing, as well as an independent market researcher and focus group moderator. She can be reached at

I am a Grammar Nerd. I know the difference between “there”, “their”, and “they’re.” I know about the Oxford comma. The difference between active and passive voice is clear to me.

I read your Facebook posts, your Tweets, your emails, and I judge you for your typos and grammatical errors. My esteem for a company drops if they have typos and grammatical errors in their materials.

I know it is not my most endearing quality, but there it is. I admit it.

However, does any of that matter? Or, am I simply hyper-critical and old-fashioned?

Apparently it does matter – quite a bit.

Harris Poll recently conducted a survey on behalf of that showed

  • While 80% of Americans believe themselves to be good spellers,
  • 71% say they often find spelling mistakes in others’ writing,
  • 59% say improper grammar annoys them the most, and
  • 65% finding misspellings and misuse of the English language on social media particularly irksome.

Well, these can’t all be former (or current) English teachers, right? Maybe it’s just us Boomers who are growing intolerant of these mistakes?

Not so! Millennials are the pickiest, with 74% of those in the 18-34 age range saying spelling and grammar errors on social media bother them. Millennials are also more annoyed by spelling and grammar mistakes than any of the older respondents. Of course, I was not surprised to learn that females are more prone to be annoyed by typos and grammatical errors. A total of 79% of females age 18-34 cited annoyance versus 69 percent of males that same age.

Personally, based on the materials that come through my inbox, I have trouble believing that the 80% of respondents who judge themselves to be good spellers are indeed good spellers. However, this was a self-reported survey question, so we’ll never know the truth.

However, without a doubt, it is safe to say that you want to avoid spelling and grammatical errors in your writing – whether it is an email, a white paper, or a social media post. You can bet that someone in your audience will see it, and be annoyed! Since this is easy enough to avoid, be sure to check your spelling and edit, edit, edit before you publish.

Now it’s your turn:

  • Are you a good speller? Really, or just in your mind?
  • Do grammar mistakes and typos bug you?
  • Are you more or less tolerant of grammatical errors and typos in social media?
  • Do you think less of a professional or their company if you spot a typo or grammatical error in their materials?

Would love to know your thoughts (below). Remember… spelling counts!


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