I left an internship of three months in a small IT company and have finally received a draft for the internship certificate to check back per email.

The person who wrote it works in the accounting department, so she isn't familiar with the technical stuff I did. She is also the boss' wife.

While the content is really good and positive, I have several concerns. She made quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes. The list of things I did wasn't entirely correct. She emphasized unimportant stuff while leaving the interesting things out.

I sent her mail, kindly pointing out the proposed content changes. I attached a revised version of the document, where I silently corrected all the spelling mistakes as well.

She answered with a new draft where my changes to the list of actions were applied, but all the typos remain.

What should I do now? I feel it's impolite and could be interpreted in a bad way to point out mistakes to a superior person although I'm not working there any more. On the other side, I doubt that the certificate would have any positive value in this shape and can be more harmful than good, if send to future recruiters.

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    This question is related, but there we are talking about few minor mistakes. The great number of mistakes in my document draft are really obvious. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/2191/… May 19, 2016 at 5:31
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    Why do you care? Is it customary where you are to require certificates to prove you worked somewhere? And all that effort for only 3 months? I wouldn't ever send a document like that to a recruiter, even if it was a literary masterpiece. Edit: I checked your profile, are you talking about an Arbeitszeugnis? If so, those have negligible value anyway from what I know of them.
    – Lilienthal
    May 19, 2016 at 5:49
  • @Lilienthal Not 100% sure how to translate it, other similar words would be "internship reference" or "letter of recommendation". May 19, 2016 at 6:22
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    So it is an Arbeitszeugnis that you're asking about?
    – Lilienthal
    May 19, 2016 at 6:38
  • This is indeed a bad situation if you need a "re-revision". I would just politely ask again and point to the spelling mistakes like. It's very important to make 100% clear that it's nothing personal but that it's very important for you. If you didn't do it in your first mail, you can also attach why you can't do it by yourself, plus adding some more excuses. Thats what I would do.
    – Otto V.
    May 20, 2016 at 10:16

2 Answers 2


While Kilisi and Lilienthal have both pointed out it is not really that important, I can understand your concern and it is something I myself would fret about. However, I'd view it as an opportunity to practice what could potentially be an uncomfortable conversation.

There is no way around correcting these mistakes without pointing them out to the person who made them. This situation will come up in your professional life a lot. Deal with it.

Politely approach him/her and say something to the tone of:

"Hey, I took the liberty to correct some spelling/grammar mistakes in this document. I hope you don't mind printing/emailing/issuing it to me again. SORRY that I did not point them out earlier and caused double the work for you."

How you do this in detail is up to you, but you really should have the interpersonal skills to point out other people's mistakes, without humiliating or offending them.

Good luck.

  • "it is something I myself would fret about" - did you mean the opposite? If you would not fret about something it generally means you would not give it much import. Maybe that's what you meant by that.
    – Brandin
    May 19, 2016 at 12:13
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    I think @Underdetermined means exactly what they said. Even if it's technically not super important, both OP and Underdetermined are bothered by documents with numerous spelling errors. They understand why OP would fret about it, and are offering a way to kindly suggest to the reference that they correct the mistakes.
    – Keiki
    May 19, 2016 at 13:56

The certificate is valid, I deal with people from all sorts of places the majority of whom don't have English as a first language. I'm less interested in the spelling and grammar of their previous employer than their accomplishments.

So, so long as it's a positive document and portrays you well, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Not enough to go back a second time for a rewrite anyway.

  • Maybe I should add that it's not in English but German, which is the native language of both of us. And some of the mistakes are really obvious and almost hurting... May 19, 2016 at 5:28
  • Unsure why that would make a difference, most applications and references I see are not in English.... are Germans particularly pedantic on spelling and grammar?
    – Kilisi
    May 19, 2016 at 5:33
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    As it's not such an international language as English (which means less non-native speakers) and we have quite many sometimes pretty complicated grammar rules etc, I personally would say yes, it is more important than in English. May 19, 2016 at 5:34
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    @Kilisi they sort of are. In my experience so far it is when you apply for a Company, but once proven it becomes considerably less important. Germany company's I have seen value foreign education less than a, well nearly anny German education. May 19, 2016 at 7:03
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    On the other hand, if I were handed a letter of reference with that many mistakes, it would make me wonder whether the candidate had good enough judgment to avoid working for companies staffed by such low-caliber people.
    – Blrfl
    May 19, 2016 at 12:11

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