This week in Irish news a political party used a historical figure in their election campaign. Why’s this marketing news? Well, the historical figure is Bobby Sands and was misspelt as Booby Sands - ouch. Here my tips on avoiding typos!
Don’t rely on spell checker
Does your spell checker really understand whether you are typing US or UK English? Will it show up Boobies if in the incorrect context? Sometimes...maybe...are you sure? There you go! Don’t rely on it. Your brain is much more powerful. A spell checker is great for all the first little typos and I use mine for that. Actually, I use Grammarly which I find works more thoroughly than others.
This is the best tip I’ve ever been given when it comes to spotting typos. Read your copy word for word from back to front. Your brain will concentrate on the word, without skipping ahead which makes it easier to spot those dreaded typos.
Reading backwards helps you see typos but you won’t see whether the context. Most of us skim over text on a screen, especially when we wrote it ourselves. Therefore, take it off screen. If you can print your copy and read over it again. Find a quiet spot, away from your desk and take your time. If you rush, you will skim and you will miss contextual errors, grammatical issues and boobies. Sorry, typos.
Perhaps not for each social message or smaller blog post but definitely the more important pieces, it’s great to have a copy buddy. Just someone who can take time to read through your copy. English is not per se my first written language. I have words and phrases that I just translate out of German and somehow think they work in English. And just as most native writers, we all have phrases and words we use all the time (I’m looking at you “So”!). Getting someone else to read over your copy will help identify those, they are also more likely to spot contextual errors and typos as they are reading the copy for the first time.
A virtual copy buddy I use is the Hemingway Editor. It shows you long, complicated sentences you wrote, passive voice and other errors you may have missed.
Test numbers and email addresses
I printed a phone number onto a direct marketing piece that was incorrect. Not a word of a lie. What did I learn? As you proof, pick up the phone and dial the number. That’s the only test to know it’s right. Same with email addresses. Test before you print!
My heart went out to that poor marketing person who made that copy mistake. The sick feeling in the pit of his or her stomach. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there in some shape or form. Take a minute to feel for this person and then apply the tips to avoid typos going forward!