You work hard on a post for hours. You choose your words very carefully. You make sure that the rhythm of the words is just so to deliver that emotional punch or punch line depending on the tone of the piece. You revise it. Then you revise it again.
Finally you are ready. You take a deep breath, you swallow back your insecurity, and you hit the publish button. The world can see what you have poured your time and energy into, the masterpiece that you are now sharing with them.
Unfortunately, they can also see your typo.
This happens to me all the time. Here’s an example from last week’s post on LinkedIn.com. When I originally posted it the second sentence read:
I have never met Stephen King and likely never will. But I am certain that I know what his least favorite Schoolhouse Rock Video. It’s this one:”
Even though before I posted it, I proofed it and slept on it before hitting publish, I missed the typo. And 4,000 people read it with that huge typo in the first paragraph. The. First. Paragraph.
Nearly every time I publish, I get a comment from my aunt or editor friend about the typos that I missed in my thorough proofing process. Yes, it’s the plural I’m afraid–the word typo rarely gets used in the singular as it pertains to my writing. It’s a condition I like to call Chronic Typo Syndrome.
If you are like me and suffer from Chronic Typo Syndrome, here are the tips I have for catching typos (I know, taking advice from someone with my condition about how to catch typos is counterintuitive, but hear me out):
- Tip #1: Know your shortcomings: Figure out what your common mistakes are and be on vigilant look out for them. For me it is the form/from substitution and also the it’s/its switcheroo (There are actually quite a few more but I have work to do today so I decided to limit my example to these two.).
- Tip #2: Print it out: I know. This isn’t great for the environment or even possible if you are working in your “satellite” office (read: Starbucks). But sometimes seeing it in good old-fashioned black and white on paper can help you spot what you are missing on the screen. Use recycled paper if you are worried about the trees.
- Tip #3: Read it out loud: This one takes time and feels silly, particularly when there is no one there to hear you (does it make any sound?). But it is a great way to see what you actually said instead of what you thought you said. I’m sure this is because reading out loud comes from a different part of your brain than when you read it silently or something.
- Tip#4: Sleep on it. This one is hard for me since once I have an idea I just can’t wait to share it. But every time I give myself a day to sleep on it, the post is always better for it, last week notwithstanding.
- Tip #5: Consider an Online Grammar Checking site. To be honest, I don’t use one of these yet. Based on last week’s blooper, it’s probably time to start. Grammarly.composted this funny meme last week on Facebook:
So true it’s almost not funny, huh?
Clearly, I need some help with typos so I think I might try them. Is it because of the funny memes? Absolutely. So take that, social media advertising naysayers!
Typos are the bane of my existence. I can’t publish a blog without a typo.* It’s like a law of nature or something. This goes for my Facebook posts and comments, too. No matter what I write, no matter how many times I proof it, one will always slip through. This is definitely a theme in my life; I have a third, “happy surprise” child in my home.
Typos can happen for lots of reasons. Sometimes they are because you forgot the rules of the language. Sometimes they happen because you hurried. This is usually the case with my posts.
Sometimes it’s because Word didn’t catch it. But I said in another post, you can’t depend on Word to catch all your mistakes. How many times have you had a “form” make it through the spell check even though the word you meant to use was “from?” Although in Word’s defense, form is not misspelled…
I don’t send my stuff to an editor. I look forward to the day when someone who is a far better proofer than I can catch these embarrassing little snafus before I publish them. But until then, I will rely on my family and friends to set me straight. And maybe the algorithms at Grammarly.com.
What is your best advice for how to find the elusive typos in your copy? Please share what you have learned in the comments below.
Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. She writes for her clients that want to enhance their content. For the past 15 years, she helps create effective marketing materials that communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.
*For the record I have proofed this 1000 times so if there is a typo, I give up. It was fate.