Does your writing reflect your level of professionalism?

Writing correctly

Is your writing a reflection of your professionalism?

Over the years, accommodation providers who list their properties on our Travel Victoria website have regularly said they want the facility to edit the wording within their advertisement themselves, rather than telling us what they want changed and waiting for that to be done. The fact we don’t offer that facility has many thinking it’s because we’re simply too lazy to set up such a self-serve editing system like what Stayz and Wotif offer to their clients.

So why don’t we offer a self-editing system? It’s because some people write things riddled with spelling errors, inappropriate punctuation, errors with grammar and construct sentences that simply make no sense. We attempt to fix most of those things before the wording hits the web, so as to produce a more professional portrayal of the property being rented out.

It’s surprising in this day and age with so much help from computers and the internet that people still commit many basic writing errors.

  1. Improper use of apostrophe for pluralisation. It’s amazing how many people believe that the plural of photo must be written as photo’s and that the last decade of the 20th century, the 1990s, should be written as 1990′s.
  2. Improper capitalisation of words. There is a tendency for people to capitalise words that shouldn’t be capitalised. Unless those words begin a sentence or are used as a specific title for something, the following should not be capitalised:
    • Seasons of the year (eg: summer, winter)
    • Common names of animal or plant species (eg: magpie, gum tree)
    • Compass directions used in a general sense (eg: north, south)
    • Titles of people used in a general sense (eg: prime minister, dentist)
  3. Wrong spelling of contracted words. Despite pronouncing “you’re” and “your” identically, some people still write “your correct” rather than “you’re correct” or its full expansion “you are correct”. Another common error is using “its” and “it’s” interchangeably when they actually mean completely different things.

While not errors, we also try to weed out:

  1. Over-use of semi-obscure abbreviations. For example, some may use QS and SB to denote queen size bed and single bed in their accommodation description, but what they stand for may not be immediately obvious to some people.
  2. Writing lengthy sentences all in capitals. This may come across as “shouting” to some readers. A better way we use to try and emphasise sentences is to adjust the font, colour, size or weight of the text.
  3. Over-use of exclamation marks. While you may try to be creating an exciting scenario, ending every sentence in an exclamation mark loses its effectiveness after repeated use.
  4. Over-use of ampersand signs. It’s common to use the ampersand (&) in titles for space saving and to put more emphasis on other important words, but using an ampersand to replace every occurrence of the word “and” within regular paragraphs of sentences is over the top.
  5. Lack of paragraphs. Particularly if you’re in a hurry, there’s nothing more intimidating than to be confronted by huge slabs of sentences with no separating paragraphs to break up the flow into logical topics.

The main reason we don’t have a self-editing system for accommodation advertisements is so that we can try and correct (the best we can) errors and confusing wording so that a potential guest reading it can more easily understand the message being conveyed. To some people, it can be very distracting to read something that has many basic writing errors, and that may negatively impact upon the impression of the property or its manager to potential guests.

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