When so much online content is created without vetting systems – no sub-editors to check for sense and accuracy, spelling, grammar, style and meaning – errors will slip through. The whizziest sites are often the biggest culprits. Estate agents start lists with the term ‘comprises of’, when the correct usage is just ‘comprises’. Other common slips are: would of, not would have; free reign rather than free rein; dire straights instead of dire straits. Some of these are so common, they’ve become regular usage.
As a writer, I always aim – not always with success – to get the detail right. I don’t like sloppiness in material created for general consumption: it suggests a lack of care and foresight. That said, the demand for content is relentless and not every writer has the luxury of an expert second opinion.
There are, however, some circumstances in which I think sloppiness inexcusable. These are: in printed material for which we pay (newspapers, books, cards), printed material created to generate sales (brochures, catalogues, flyers), and any written content created by those who govern or set themselves up as a trusted authority (police/teachers/businesses). If people in powerful positions don’t think the small details important, why would we trust them with the big stuff?
I was both disappointed and unsurprised then, to find this Brent Council notice in a local road!