December 13, 2019
Several years ago, an artist was commissioned to create a colorful mosaic to grace the entrance of a new library in Livermore, California. Unfortunately, the artist did not take the time to check to see if her spelling was correct. It was more than embarrassing for the library director and staff when visitors began noticing that 11 of the 175 names and words on the piece were misspelled–from “Eistein” and “Shakespere” to “Van Gough” and “Michaelangelo.” The correct spelling of these names is Einstein, Shakespeare, Van Gogh, and Michelangelo.
The $40,000 project ended up costing the city an additional $6,000 because it paid the artist to fly from her Miami home to correct the mistakes.
Adding to the problem was the unwillingness of the artist to take responsibility for the errors. Amazingly, the city officials allowed her to get away with her claim, “There were plenty of people around during the installation who could and should have seen the missing and misplaced letters.”
The Livermore Library is an extreme example of the damage that can be caused by misspelled words. They had to invest additional funds to clean up the public relations mess on their hands.
Spelling errors can cause serious problems in the workplace. Email is a common vehicle for communicating quickly but it can create credibility issues and erode trust. Poorly written email messages will damage customer relationships and tarnish your professional image. Misspellings and incorrect word usage are the most common errors in workplace emails.
How is your spelling?
Do you confuse common “sound-alike” words such as “accept” and “except?” These are often referred to as notorious confusables. Here are examples of common mistakes:
These are two of the most confusing words in the English language. What is its color? It’s blue. It’s been fun. Remember, “it’s” means it is or it has! Use its to show possession. The cat hurt its paw. The furniture store celebrated its tenth anniversary.
She needs a key to access the contents of the desk drawer. We had an excess number of donuts for the meeting. The number of employees who wanted access to the training seminar was in excess of one hundred.
If someone passes you a good remark about your behavior, he is complimenting you The teacher complimented Emma for her respectable behavior in class. If you would like to enhance the quality of something, you’re complementing one thing with another. A pair of spectacles complemented her official apparel.
She complimented her friend on the way her drapes complemented her furniture.
They’re going to ship their package over there by tomorrow. Remember, “they’re” means they are. Use “their” to show possession.
Incorrect spelling is a growing concern in business. Technology is a major cause of the problem. Don’t rely on the spell checker programs installed on your computer. You can start there, but if you are not absolutely certain about the meaning or spelling of a word, I suggest you take it a step further and refer to other sources.