This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

To find out more about Write, go to or join us on Facebook at

28 January 2014

All power to the geeks

I'm sending a virtual bouquet to the New Plymouth teenager who has offered to help people correct the grammar in their online advertising, for free. Megan Smith, who is 17, was reported in her local daily newspaper as saying that she sees too many advertisements on websites like TradeMe that are just plain wrong. She thinks that poor spelling and grammatical mistakes are ruining the writers' chances of success, by reducing their credibility.

So Megan is offering to do something about it. She will correct people's copy for free, to make their advertisements error-free and less cringe-worthy. All right, I admit that last phrase is mine. But isn't it true? Basic spelling and grammatical errors do make many of us cringe.

And Megan is on to something when she says that she thinks grammatical mistakes reflect badly on the writer, and reduce their credibility. Mounting evidence supports her view.

The BBC reported in 2011 that spelling mistakes in web copy cost the website millions in online sales. A study by the Confederation of British Industry said spelling mistakes alone can cut online sales in half.

A report in the US business magazine Forbes quoted a study by the online grammar software company, Grammarly. It carried out a study of Linked-In profiles amongst professionals, and found that those with fewer grammatical mistakes in their profiles achieved better jobs. Few errors also correlated with more and better promotions, the study found.

And a British study by Global Lingo in 2013 found that 59% of those who took part would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website. When people were asked why, 61% of respondents said they wouldn't trust a company to provide a quality service if it had mistakes in its marketing material. A third of respondents simply said they'd be 'put off', and 20% said they would consider the company that made such mistakes 'unprofessional'.

So Megan Smith is definitely on to something. Good on her. And I love her reported comment that 'the geek thing is quite trendy now.' All power to the geeks.

Click this link - tweet this blog

No comments:

Post a Comment