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Oops Once, Not Twice: Get Rid of Old Errors

This week I received an email reminding me about a luncheon on Monday, December 9. The writer pasted in the original invitation beneath his reminder. Minutes later I received an "oops" message, apologizing: the writer had meant Tuesday, December 9–not Monday. 

But the writer had already made this mistake back in September when he sent the original invitation. Why did it happen again? It happened again because he didn't delete the message that included the error, and he ended up using it again. 

If you send an email with an error, correct the error and send the corrected version to all the recipients. Then delete the original. Once deleted, the error will not be able to show its ugly head again.

Do the same thing in PowerPoint presentations, reports, manuals, sales letters, etc. Once you find an error–or someone brings it to your attention–eliminate it wherever it exists. That way you can be sure not to cut and paste it into a new document, for a new round of embarrassment.

A company representative sent me an email asking if any of his products had peaked my interest. I replied and let him know, gently, that he meant piqued–not peaked. I hope he deleted that error from all his marketing messages.

Catch errors before they catch you. If you have words you often mistype, search for them before you send an email or document, especially if they are the type of errors your grammar and spelling checker misses. For instance, if you often type you when you want your or if you miss it's/its errors, search for those words before releasing an important message.

I'm going to the luncheon on Monday, December 9. Oops–I mean Tuesday. I had better delete that incorrect reminder before it confuses me too.

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.