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Typos Your Competition Wants You to Make


Doesn't it just make your day when that little "spell check is complete" box pops up and you have no spelling errors? From there you can save your doc or send that email with full confidence that your writing is free of errors!

Not so fast.

The spell check function in your email and other word processing programs is failing you, and giving your competition an edge. Spell check does not catch nuances, nor does it "read" your text for literal comprehension. Continue to use it -- always -- but reach out to a professional proofreading service or have a colleague read your draft with a fresh set of eyes when you are producing important content. You don't want your reputation blemished or your work doubted because of silly typos that could have easily been fixed.

Grammar rules aren't always black and white, but being aware of the following common typos is a surefire way of presenting your content in a manner that won't invite doubt from your readers -- or send them running to your competitors.

  1. The wrong date: Upcycling old content is a practice in efficiency but is only effective when a commitment to careful proofreading is present. There's no such thing as Wednesday, August 27, 2015, so double-check dates when planning communications in support of an annual event or meeting. Of course your competition wants you to confuse customers!

  2. Broken or bad links: Hyperlinked text is much cleaner than writing, "click on the following link to see more" followed by a big, ugly url. Make sure to always have someone double-check all links in any electronic communication you send, especially email invitations. Always.

  3. The extra word: A fresh set of eyes will catch superfluous words that may have been missed by spell check.

  4. Than vs. Then: This one grinds my gears. Simply put: Then is used when describing a sequence of events, and Than is used in a comparison. (Tip: the E in Then = Events.)

  5. You're vs. Your: This one is epidemic. Break it down and see if using "you are" works in your situation. If it does, it's in your (he he) best interest to use "you're."

  6. Alright vs. All Right: Alrighty, this one's tough and ambiguous. We were taught in grammar school that "alright is not all right," and that "alright" wasn't even a real word. "Alright" is increasingly acceptable and appears in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but unless you are Matthew McConaughey, avoid it in your writing.

  7. The extra space: I had to add this one because it's one of my pet peeves. Repeat after me: "There is only one space after a period."

It is fascinating for a logophile like myself to think about the cultural and socioeconomic reasons behind the pervasiveness of some typos. The rules are there; why are they so often broken by the most intelligent and respectable of people and corporations? Proofreading is so important. Don't send your customers into the arms of an organization that puts the controls in place to prevent ambiguity and embarrassment.

You see them everywhere, too, right? Send a picture of your favorite typo humdinger to me on Twitter with the hashtag #typosstalkme and I'll share my favorites in a new post!

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