Proofread and double check your copy

Web page excerpt from the Tissot website. Compliment or complement?

Do you think most professional writers know the difference between the similar sounding words compliment and complement? Or complimentary and complementary? I thought the answer would be an unequivocal “yes.” But from the numerous instances lately where I’ve observed the words improperly used, I’m changing my answer to a flat out “no.”

The two offending examples here are from a Filson printed catalog and a web page from the Tissot website, a Swiss watchmaker. Both of these luxury brands have reputations for producing high-quality goods. And in both examples the word “complement” should have been used instead of compliment.

One could argue that luxury brands have even more to risk when mistakes are made in marketing channels. After all, high-quality consumer goods should also reflect high-quality marketing communications. High quality usually equates to very few, if any defects.

The truth is, grammar and spelling mistakes can eventually tarnish the luster of just about any brand—not just luxury brands. Once, I found a typo in a Corvette print ad. The writer spelled aggressive with one “g” and nobody caught the error during production.

Filson catalog with typo | Teagarden.techCommunications consultant Shel Holz in a recent post cited research revealing that consumers are bothered by spelling and grammar mistakes in marketing-related content.

Yep, those of us that write and create marketing content for a living make mistakes. Some of mine have been epic. There are five tips, however, we can follow to minimize mistakes and grammar faux pas.


5 tips to better grammar

  1. Look up anything you’re not sure about.
  2. Run all your copy through an industrial strength (not Word’s built-in tool) grammar and spell checker. (I use Grammarian Pro2 X, Mac-only)
  3. Have an editor or other person in your office review and proofread all your copy.
  4. Proofread your copy backwards to catch most typos.
  5. For digital content reread everything after it’s posted or published. (I sometimes find mistakes that slipped through undetected.)

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