Typo: Abbreviation for typographical error. AKA fat-finger syndrome.
Typos are not necessarily the same as spelling errors.
In marketing and advertising, we often refer to a spelling error as a typo, but typos are not necessarily the same as spelling errors. The term “typo” originated with the mechanical process of typesetting. You may know how to spell a word correctly, but your finger hits the wrong key. Sometimes we transpose letters, and it’s a case of our brain moving faster than our fingers. Either way, when a typo or spelling error shows up in content, it’s not pretty.
Poor grammar can steal the thunder from that brilliant thought you were eager to share.
Too many typos or spelling errors in a piece can compromise your credibility. Poor grammar can steal the thunder from that brilliant thought you were eager to share. Punctuation rules the rhythm and flow of your piece, so keep it in mind.
What’s the difference between grammar and punctuation?
Once upon a time, writers and editors lost sleep over typos and spelling errors. Nowadays, we sleep easier because much of our content is online. When working with an online publishing platform (e.g., WordPress), corrections are simple: We edit the existing document and then hit the Publish button. Presto, the mistake disappears. One caveat: If the social media content you’ve published has been been picked up by another site before you’ve had a chance to correct the mistake, there’s not a lot you can do other than fixing the root file.
If your piece is going to a printer, go mad with proofing. If a typo makes it into a printed piece, you’ll be left cringing over it for the life of the piece.
Write the way you speak.
Write the way you speak. This piece of advice is particularly relevant for social media. Social media is about conversations and making connections, so a casual tone works well. Slang is acceptable only in certain contexts — use common sense here. We’re definitely more casual in much of our writing today, but …
Spelling, grammar, and punctuation remain important; they’re every bit as important as in formal business writing.
Before you hit Publish …
- Spellchecks are helpful, but … 8 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Just Rely on SpellCheck.
- Proofread your content more than once.
- Have someone else proofread your content. Even the best writers benefit from a proofreader or editor. What’s up with that: Why it’s so hard to catch your own typos.
- Don’t guess! When you’re not sure, look it up.
- Walk away from your content and go back to it later. You return to it with a fresh eye and may see typos or other errors that you missed on your first go-round. Walking away also provides an opportunity to mull over additional ideas that could make your content richer.
- Don’t let grammar rule you! Grammar has rules, but they can be broken occasionally. Just make sure that if you are going to break the rules, you do so intelligently, with style, and for a purpose.
- Major newspapers (online and in print) often have errors in copy, and they have an entire staff of proofreaders. Errors happen! If you notice one, and it’s too late to fix it, relax. World peace probably isn’t at stake. I’ve included a few funny proofreading blunders, later in this post.
Imagine! Years ago, punctuation didn’t exist. The mysterious origins of punctuation.
While creating content, it’s helpful to have a few authoritative resources nearby. Here are a few of my favourites:
Reference Books (in print):
The Associated Press Style Book
These two are particularly fun to browse:
Miss Nomer’s Guide to Painfully Incorrect English
Using a good spelling, grammar, and punctuation app? Let me know and I’ll update this post.
A touch of serendipity …
While writing this post I received an email ‘funny’ about proofreading blunders. (I’d give credit where credit is due but no sources were provided.) A little proofreading would definitely have spoiled the giggles …
Sign in a public washroom: “Toilet out of order. Please use floor below.”
Sign in a department store: “Bargain basement upstairs.”
Sign in an office: “After tea break, staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.”
Outside a second-hand shop: “We exchange anything — bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?”
Notice in a farmer’s field: “The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.”
In a Safari park: “ELEPHANTS, PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR.”
In a Laundromat: “Automatic Washing Machines: Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.”
In a newspaper: “Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers.”
Also in the news: “Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over.”
(Thanks to Yellowknife Girl for proofreading this post before I hit Publish. Any errors after the fact are not her fault.)