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 broker 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 have you curled up in a ball weeping like a baby for days looking, well, like a flash in the pan.