Spell Names Correctly

It goes without saying that if you use people's names, you need to be certain that you've spelled them correctly. A misspelled name implies a lack of care or concern, sloppiness, or incompetence. Be careful to get it right.

The only way to confirm the proper spelling of a name is to call and ask. Simply copying a name from a directory or a phone book, for example, only proves that you have transcribed the name accurately, not that you have written the correct name. Also, people's names change. In other words, even if the directory spelling is correct and you transcribe the name properly, you may still get the name wrong—perhaps a woman has married or gotten divorced, for instance.

Savi, a clerk in a human resources department says, "I recently met a woman whose last name was Enfield. She came into the office to change her health insurance to an individual policy. She had just gotten divorced and gone back to her maiden name. You never know. A month ago her name was Terry Wren, now it's Terry Enfield."

Some companies have found that response increases so much when they address people by name that it's worth their while to have staff call and verify every name, even for large mailings. Whatever you decide to do, whenever you use someone's name, it's critical that you get it right.

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