Have you made a typo? Of course, you have. Those evil little things! They happen. They seem to appear spontaneously on the page the moment you believe you corrected everything.
These days we create so much content on a regular basis that we increase our chances of not catching a misspelled word. We smash words together to make a single hashtag on social media that will always show as a misspelled word, so we learn to ignore certain things. If you’re working quickly to move on to your next task, it’s especially easy to misspell something within the hashtag and not notice.
We’ve all done it and although it can be mortifying, let’s agree it’s not a heinous crime. Full disclosure, I am in a Facebook group called, I JUDGE YOU WHEN YOU USE POOR GRAMMAR. Within that group people primarily share posts of spelling and word usage gone wrong on public signage, tattoos, decorated cakes, and other things. It’s very funny! What is amazing is when the item shared is a public document or in a published book or a newspaper. Those items had to have been seen by many people (at least more than one) before entering the public’s domain. Another way to consider that is how long that copy will last. If it’s on your website it will be there for at least a few years and people have a higher expectation for website copy than a social media post or text. Comb through your website and make sure you’ve caught all of those little buggers. It’s humbling and reminds us, we’re only human. However, machines seem to be worse at matching words to context than humans are.
Spellcheck – Problem or Solution?
If you use MS Word for most of your documents, the program’s spellcheck might be correcting things that you don’t even notice that you regularly misspell. Though it’s not perfect, Word’s spellcheck is drastically more effective than your texting platform’s spellcheck. Would you agree?
Texting spellcheck seems to be quite aggressive, almost intrusive, when it has the audacity to constantly incorrectly correct how you spell your child’s name. It often changes everyday words that alter the intent of the message completely, and not to the most obvious word. I suspect there are some programmers somewhere snickering about making text-spellcheck change ‘home’ to ‘gone,’ ‘dear’ to ‘dead,’ and ‘dimples’ to ‘nipples.’ In those cases, you can’t rely on a simple red line underneath the word to tell you it’s misspelled, because it isn’t.
Write Spelling, Wrong Word (Yes, I meant to do that)
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then you might be familiar with my weekly posts “Words To Never Confuse.” Each Friday, I share two words that are similar in spelling but mean different things, usually summed up with a punchline. It’s humerus to see the wrong word used in a sentence. (See what I did there? And in this section header?) The wrong word, when spelled correctly will not be underlined in red telling you to change it.
Follow me on Instagram @LeslieAMSmith and Facebook.com/McCormickLA to see “Words To Never Confuse” every Friday.
Try Hard, Forgive Yourself
Typos in your blogpost or an Instagram post are not the same as a miscalculation by NASA. Be careful to avoid offending anyone, create distrust, or inadvertently promise something you can’t deliver. Here are some tips to help. The most important is really to move slower with greater attention to detail.
Tips to Avoid Typos & Incorrect Usage
- First off, read everything you write. Yes, it takes more time. Slowing down is good overall.
- Wait a little while between writing and reading. If you read through it right away you might miss things because your brain remembers what you wrote. You read ‘knowing’ what you wrote so you miss what you actually wrote.
- Change the size of the font to 16-points, print it out, then read it. When it looks different, you’ll see it more clearly.
- Read the words backwards to doublecheck for typos. This way you are reading it basically like a list because the sentence won’t make sense backwards. You are more likely to find the misspelled words.
- Use a dictionary or thesaurus for words you aren’t sure of. Find out which word you really mean before your followers tell you.
- If you have time, let someone else read it before you send. Especially if this is something you are publishing that does not have a short shelf-life like a daily post.
- Editing your edits is important! I find that when I edit something, I make mistakes in the verbiage I add. I need to take a full run-through after editing.
- Track Changes in Word tends to add spaces after you accept edits. I’m always mad at myself for “accepting all the changes” then sending a new version to a client only to find that Track Changes kept the spaces before and after a deleted word. You (I) need to review it again before sending.
- If you write any kind of instructions that other people have to follow, please read these two previous blog posts. You know what you’re talking about, but others don’t. Develop the voice of a true instructor.The Importance of Writing Clear Instructions and Tips for Writing Instructions.
Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She is the author of Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on Amazon.