Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do your grammar and punctuation affect your credibility?

I believe that bad grammar and punctuation sabotage the credibility of the writer.  The same goes for the company that the writer represents.

For me, bad grammar and punctuation suggest a lack of education and attention to detail. I wonder if the writer's professional work displays similar weaknesses. Plus, I'm annoyed if poor writing makes me work harder to grasp the point the writer was trying to convey.

Marketing materials--especially long-lived forms such as websites and brochures--should hit high standards to put the firm's best foot forward.

I'm more forgiving of typos in quickly created, ephemeral communications, such as tweets on Twitter. I'm guilty of typos there and on my blog.

What about you? Does bad grammar and punctuation detract from your opinion of writers and their companies? 
Please answer the poll in the right-hand column of my blog. Also, feel free to leave your comment below.

I'll report on the poll results in a future issue of my newsletter. The poll will run until June 2009.

Jan. 20, 2013 note: I updated the title of this post after an anonymous commenter pointed out my grammatical mistake.

Susan B. Weiner, CFA
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Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved


  1. For me, the focus on quality extends to every aspect of a piece of work: grammar, punctuation, graphics, the overall looks, etc.

    I have tried to stress (to students that I have taught and investment firms that I have advised) that producing a report that appears amateurish in any respect affects your credibility. Paying attention to the smallest details pays off.

  2. Tom,

    You are so right that the entire presentation counts. Good grammar and punctuation can't save a communication that doesn't appeal in other ways to its readers.

  3. Here are my poll results

    "Do grammar or punctuation errors affect the writer's credibility in your eyes?"

    0% No, I don't notice errors
    2% No, I don't care
    22% Yes, but I forgive small errors, especially in social networking posts
    75% Yes, it generally hurts my opinion

  4. Should the headline not be Do Grammar and Punctuation... ?


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