The punch in the stomach came three days after I had finished five rounds of interviews at Condé Nast Publications. The last thank-you letter I wrote was to the executive editor. I quickly got word that the reason I wouldn’t be hired was that I had mistakenly added an “e” to Bon Appétit, which had me spelling the name of the magazine wrong.
The spelling error raised serious questions about my abilities and skills, from whether I would be a conscientious co-worker to did I have a solid grasp of AP Style.
Today, with TTYL and GTG’s peppered on everything we read, it’s easy to forget that formalities, spelling and proper grammar do matter. Thank-you letters should be free of grammar and spelling errors – period.
Whether you’re thanking a sales associate for scoring an account, a new business prospect for his time, or a member of your department for his hard work, it’s important to get it right. Follow these tips for proofreading perfection.
- Create distance after writing. Do something else for a few minutes before attempting to proofread your writing.
- Use spell check. And then go over every word to make sure you didn’t do something that spell check wouldn’t catch – like change the word Appétit to Appetite.
- Open your mouth. You’re liable to catch grammatical errors and misplaced words by reading text aloud.
- Read the note backwards. This snaps your brain out of reading for content and forces you to look at individual words.
- Editing before Proofreading should be the very last thing you do. If you change sentences or words around in the proofreading stage, you’re editing. You still need to proofread afterward.
- Follow with your finger. Point to each word as you proofread so you stay on track.
- Solicit the help of someone else who doesn’t know the subject matter or who isn’t as close to the work.
A well-crafted thank-you note gives you an edge. It instantly says you see value in what’s transpired, solidifies your commitment to the situation at hand and helps build a relationship. A poorly written one can you looking, well, like a flash in the pan.
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