5 Very Scary Mistakes in Business Writing

It would be great if we could blame writing mistakes on ghosts and goblins, but the truth is we all make them. Still, Business Writing That Counts! can help writers cut down on scary mistakes like the ones below.


1. Incorrect Verb Visions Incorrect verb forms are among the top writing and speaking mistakes. For example, using "we was" instead of "we were" or "I done" instead of "I did" makes for a poor image. This might seem too simple to mess up, but it can—and does—happen. Plus, most sentences are more complicated, and most business writing mistakes occur when writers fail to identify the subject correctly so they choose the right verb form. For example, "the report on sales of nuts and bolts was a good indicator of our success" is correct, but writers often mistake a predicate (phrase that tells about a subject) for the subject in a sentence like this (and say "the report on sales of nuts and bolts were … ", which is incorrect. With a little help, business writers can learn to identify the subject to use the correct verb forms.

2. Grammar Goofs General grammar goofs are too common as well. Although they might not seem all that scary, they can spook grammar-conscious customers and lose you business. Some of the most common include using "it's" for "its." Remember, it's is a contraction of "it is," and it’s actually is the possessive, as in "The report had lost its effectiveness because of all the mistakes it contained." Likewise, their, vs they're, vs there is a common trap for business writers.

3. Punctuation Pitfalls Confusion over it's and its also falls into the punctuation pitfalls of business writing. The apostrophe trips plenty of writers, most often by adding one where it is unnecessary. The apostrophe stands in for missing letters (can't for cannot) and creates a possessive (John's office). It never goes behind a plural ($1 off on bananas' is incorrect). Other punctuation pitfalls include overuse of commas and exclamation points.

4. Social Media Slips. Business writers make up to three times more errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation on social media posts than in email messages. You want to post quickly to respond, but you still should post accurately. It takes only seconds to re-read a social media post, and it is smart business to ensure anyone who posts to your accounts on behalf of the company has good writing skills, a basic understanding of social media etiquette, and an understanding of approval and proofing of posts.

5. Overlooking Proofreading. Speaking of proofreading, skipping this step is a sure way to scary mistakes. Take the time to ensure that at least two people read every bit of your business writing, checking for typos, grammar and punctuation errors and even strategy/internal messaging and house style. If you're not sure how to include this step in your busy schedule and need to rapidly release information, contact us to learn how our licensing programs and webinars can train you and key staff to avoid scary mistakes and make proofreading effective.


Typos and grammar mistakes can cause confusion and even cost you money. We can save you costly mistakes with our highly relevant content in a self-paced environment and engaged, ongoing support for you or a licensed Business Writing That Counts! internal staff member.


Learn more about our licensing program on our website. Or call us with your questions at (425)-485-3221

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