Mistakes & Mishaps

Have you been communicating with archaic expressions?

communicating with archaic expressions

Pardon me if I sound like a broken record, but I’m about to climb up on my soapbox, so don’t touch that dial! If that sentence made sense, you probably need to adjust the way you talk with colleagues and customers. If it didn’t make sense, you’re the reason why. As with nearly every other … Read more

There’s no need to be homophone-obic

who's afraid of a homophone

Back when you were in elementary school, your teacher worked hard to help you understand a concept called homophones. If you’re like most people, homophones bedeviled you then, and they probably still trip you up now and again. What are homophones? They’re those words that sound the same, even though they have very different meanings … Read more

9 tricks for better proofreading

proofreading can be hard

Is proofreading important? Have you noticed the dramatic increase in the number of typos and other mistakes in materials produced by companies and organizations? I suspect it results from three factors: emphasizing haste over quality, relying on software spellcheckers, and unfamiliarity with spelling and language. Granted, the mistake someone at your company makes may not … Read more

Preventing PR disasters: two critical rules

Once upon a time, mentioning United Airlines conjured the company’s enduring slogan, “Fly the friendly skies.” A few years ago, a PR gaffe on the company’s part earned it an entirely different image. A 69-year-old passenger who didn’t agree with a gate agent’s decision to “bump” him from the flight was dragged down the aisle, … Read more

More media mistakes and mishaps

It’s time once again to present some typos and other amusing mishaps that appeared in the media. I don’t poke fun at individuals for making mistakes, but professionals should know better. All three of these examples involve the use of the wrong word. In each, the writer chose a homophone of the intended word, and … Read more

Year-end goofs and gaffes

From time to time, I share embarrassing mistakes writers shouldn’t have made. I don’t target well-meaning amateurs — only professional writers and editors who should know better. Some recent examples: A September political newsletter from the Indianapolis Business Journal referenced a candidate forum by noting, “It wasn’t a true debate persay; all of the questions … Read more

More goofs and gaffes

A local magazine’s article about a coworking space included a number of amusing typos, but my favorite had to be when the author described the floorplan, noting “… comfortable booths and couches and desks with partisans to offer privacy.” Neither the writer nor the editor caught that one. Obviously, the author meant “partitions,” as in … Read more

Even still more goofs and gaffes

Again and again, I see proof of professional reliance on spellcheckers instead of good old proofreading and editing. Case in point: a Northwest Indiana Times article about funding for safety improvements on the South Shore Railroad. The reporter included this bullet point: “Implementation of Positive Train Control, a federally mandated safety system that tracks the precise location … Read more