Are neatness and order important to you?
I’m of a certain generation of educated Americans that values correct grammar, proper spelling and clear writing. In my model of the world, the manner in which a person speaks and writes says volumes about his character and social standing.
Younger people do not necessarily share these values. Some of them tend to use language imprecisely, to speak ungrammatically, and to care little about spelling. To them, the proper use of the English language just slows them up and bogs them down in unnecessarily details.
They often think and write at top speed, often without measuring their words or showing much care about how their communications are received.
One place this is evident to me is in the posts that many people make to various online discussion forums. These often look as though they were “hammered out on the keyboard” without a second thought. Some posters don’t reread for either content or spelling. It’s obviously unimportant to them.
I disagree with this careless attitude toward forum posting, blogging, e-mail and other electronic communications. I feel my thoughts, expressed in words, are an important reflection on me.
When I write something that I know will end up on the Internet, I realize that I am creating a permanent record that will be associated with my name and reputation. So, I take the time to make certain it says (and looks) in a way that I hope reflects favorably on me, my values, my attention to detail, my work ethic, etc.
For me, it’s all part of the “sensory package” that affects each person I personally come in contact with. That sensory package includes my tone of voice (on the phone and in person), the shine (or lack of one) on my shoes, my facial countenance, general appearance, after shave aroma, etc. They all communicate a message about me and affect other people’s opinion about the value of my message (consciously or unconsciously).
Online, people measure my credibility by the appearance of my websites, their content, language, etc.
So, one habit I keep to religiously is spell checking and rereading all my written communications, including the posts I make to forums other than SWEPA. And the tool I use for this is ieSpell, a spell checker for Internet Explorer.
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From the ieSpell.com website
“ieSpell is a free Internet Explorer browser extension that spell checks text input boxes on a webpage. It should come in particularly handy for users who do a lot of web-based text entry (e.g. web mails, forums, blogs, diaries). Even if your web application already includes spell checking functionality, you might still want to install this utility because it is definitely much faster than a server-side solution. Plus you get to store and use your personal word list across all your applications, instead of maintaining separate ones on each application.
“The program installs as a new button in the IE toolbar (as well as a new menu item under “Tools”) — after filling in a form, just hit the ieSpell button and it pops up a dialog, similar to the MS Word spell check.
“ieSpell is not spyware or adware. It’s free for personal use only. All other use requires a commercial license.
“If you find ieSpell useful, please express your satisfaction with a donation. Your donations will help to support its future development.”
I’ve been using ieSpell for years and give it my highest recommendation.
Additional details at www.iespell.com.
The rest of the sermon…
If you’re going to write and publish online (or elsewhere) I also advocate learning the rules of grammar. Grammar is the foundation of the language, without which there can be no logic. And without logic, there is no foundation for rhetoric.
Good writing reflects clear thinking.
Words drive the brain.
Your use of the language and attention to the details of grammar and spelling tell your customers volumes (consciously or unconsciously) about you and your products and their intrinsic value.