The Copywriter’s Secret Weapon

The magic of this copywriter’s secret weapon is that the “secret” part is not in the weapon, but in how, when and when not to use it.

So are you ready for the magic? I’ll give you a hint: red zigzag underlines. That’s right, I’m talking about spell check.

“Oh, I already use spell check,” you might be thinking.

But the truth is, you probably don’t use it effectively. If you’re relying on those zigzag underlines I mentioned, then you’re relying on a false confidence.

Those zigzags are the vision attention equivalent of the boy who cried wolf. Your documents are already covered in “look at me!” marks for funky names and words like “econference.” Naturally you ignore the real alarms along with the false ones.

To solve this problem, the first step is to get in the habit of running a spell check program that takes you through each potential typo, one by one. For emails, you can often set it to auto-check all outgoing messages. (Here’s how to do it in Outlook.)

The key is habit. When you hit spell check without even thinking, that’s when you’re set up for success. And think how happy you’ll be when you spell check a high-profile PowerPoint and notice that you’ve misspelled your own name? (Well, you’ll be happy after you fix it.)

Speaking of names, add yours to your custom dictionary. Add lots of stuff to the custom dictionary. The more words you add, the less false alarms will distract you.

And speaking even more of names, they fall into the category of important things that spell check can’t accomplish. Also in that category are numbers and dates. Before sending any email, giving any presentation or printing any document, always do a manual once-over of names, numbers and dates.

Got it? Good. Like Smokey the Bear has never said, “Only you can prevent embarrassing spelling errors!”

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~ by SFcopywriter on September 15, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Copywriter’s Secret Weapon”

  1. I’ll second adding your own name to custom dictionary. My mom used to get mad at the computer for always “thinking” that she spelled her own name wrong. The custom dictionary addition was a quick fix for getting their relationship back on track… at least until it was time for yet another double-click verses right-click tutorial.

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