Thursday, 9 February 2017
Beware the dreaded apostrophe!
I've just seen it again. The apostrophe used in the wrong place and sticking out like a banana in a bouquet of roses – actually it was part of an otherwise thoroughly intelligent article which also had three or four literals, all in the space of fewer than 600 words. All of which is totally unnecessary. Rule number one must surely be, please check what you write: it represents you, your skill, your company and what you are offering.
But the worst point is the use of the apostrophe when all you need is a plural. In this example, the offending item was the term Call To Action, denoted as CTA. There's nothing wrong with this so far, but then you really must not continue the story by referring to "CTA's"; it should simply be written as "CTAs".
I've seen this increasingly common mistake everywhere, even printed on expensive signage on the front of large retail and trade premises: "Top of range BMW's at great prices". I ask you. It's like saying 1960's instead of 1960s. When you are advertising for PAs do you write PA's? No, because in the latter instance the apostrophe would either denote possession as in 'The PA's pen dropped with a loud clang as she walked towards the office door', or an abbreviation of the verb 'is' or 'has', as in 'The PA's the one you should be talking to'. If you want more personal assistants, what you are looking for is more PAs. If you want to explain how to make your Call To Actions effective, please don't refer to them as CTA's.
It is just slack. It is also slack to let an otherwise useful and informative article be published without checking it thoroughly first. Believe me when I say your words as much as your actions and services make you credible. Even today, when so many rules are broken and less heed is paid to good writing, the quality of your communications is one of the first things that a potential customer will notice. It starts the journey to engage people's trust.