Spelling mistakes in online profiles

I answered a reader’s question for my Ask LikeBright column, about why guys seem to make so many spelling and grammar mistakes in their online profiles. Truthfully, it’s not just guys, and we do it for a number of reasons. But leaving your profile all casual and unedited almost always backfires. Here’s why:

…people who care about such things REALLY care about it and judge you for it, and people who don’t won’t even notice your carefully crafted casual vibe.

That’s just how it goes, kids. You have to find other ways to sound super cool and low-key. Heck, I even suggested to a client recently that he justify his writing “okcupid” in all lowercase by saying in a parenthetical statement that he was matching the typography of the logo. Why would I go to such lengths to encourage such a weird tangent in an OKCupid profile? Well, because a) it was true, that’s why he wrote it that way; b) girls browsing his profile might actually think it was a sloppy mistake otherwise, because most publications refer to that site with the capitalization “OKCupid” for some reason; and c) that kind of obsessive attention to detail is either endearing to the right person, or off-putting to the wrong person. So it helps express your personality in a way that connects you with the right kind of people, and helps you avoid connection with the kinds whom you’ll just irritate, haha.

definitely

     Image credit: The Oatmeal

I also know loads of bloggers and writers who have special style guides. John Gruber semi-famously refuses to include the exclamation point in Yahoo! because he finds it obnoxious. (So do I, but apparently I’m choosing to humor them, for now.) If you’re famous, or paired up, well, you can get away with whatever style choices you want! But if you’re trying to attract a mate with your writing, I urge you to attempt to avoid this.

To take my pickiness a step further, I personally also dislike the very common habit of capitalizing certain nouns that matter to you (for example, “I’m an active guy and I love Running, Swimming, and Golfing”) because I just think it looks weird and like you’re pretending to speak German. But then again, if this is how you often write in real life, then you have my begrudging Permission to do this. ;)

There’s a balance, of course, between writing all polished-up-like in your profile and then sounding surprisingly sloppy in real life when you aren’t putting out such a concerted effort. Basically, though, you should make at least some effort even over email and text until you’ve at least gotten to the point when you’ve kissed someone. I guarantee if there’s physical chemistry, Mr. or Ms. Pickypants is unlikely to dismiss you just because of a stray comma, ya know? So give your best game until you’ve started to forge a connection, and then you can let your grammar gut out, so to speak.

And you should ALWAYS strive to bring your A-game when you’re writing for a business, be it your own or someone else’s. Only very specific copy direction should encourage you to break rules. Most publications have in-house guides or agree to follow a certain guide with a few exceptions, so ask if you’re unsure (or volunteer to create that guide if you’re me, haha.)

Happy Dating, Readers! (See what I did there?)

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