Have you ever wondered about the power of typos and why, in the grand scheme of things, there is this power given to such a minute oversight?
We’ve all had those times when we’re reading an article, a book, a brochure or a resumé and we come across a typo. This little tiny alphabetical mishap can immediately diminish the credibility of the author, company, or person. Isn’t that amazing!? It’s like you’re listening to incredibly soothing music and then all of a sudden you hear the screeching of the needle across the album and the world comes to a halt.
I mean, imagine you’re hiring an engineer and you’ve got this applicant who was top in their class, full scholarship, has already been published, etc. etc. BUT…..you come across a typo on his resumé. Does this mean he will be any less of a great engineer? Of course not. But it still bugs you. Why?
Because the moment your eyes hit that typo, you realized he’s not perfect. In your mind, he has failed. He is a disappointment because of that one mistake. Wow.
It’s like seeing a stain on someone’s shirt. You can’t help but stare at it. It sticks out like a sore thumb. But does it make them any less good at what they do? Or less knowledgeable about what they write about? Of course not.
Newsflash….none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. It’s TRYING not to make the mistake again that is important.
It reminds me of the Lexus tagline “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.” I’ve always loved that tagline because by including “pursuit of” it said they were constantly trying to reach perfection — not that they were perfect. It signified an attitude, not a state of being.
There are actually several industry articles that recommend putting common misspelled or mistyped words into your meta data and keywords for Search Engine Optimization. So basically, computers accept that we humans are imperfect more than we humans do.
After almost 20 years in this business, I still hate reading the copy on a brochure when I go to the press check. There is always this fear in my mind that there will be a typo — the ones spell check doesn’t catch. Those typos can turn a “winner” into a “wiener”, a “champ” into a “chump”, and “public” into, well, you know.
So in order to avoid the humiliation of future typos in marketing materials, here is some sound advice.
1. Spell check every time — no matter how small the document.
2. Read the copy OUT LOUD at a slower pace — from a printed copy. This will catch things that your eye-to-brain silent connection might miss.
3. When working on internal rounds of revisions, try to keep the number of rounds to a minimum. The more rounds of revisions on any given piece actually increases the chances of typo oversights since everyone will have read the copy so many times.
4. Before you call something “final” get someone else to read it that has not seen the copy before. Fresh eyes will catch things that you will miss from too much familiarity with the piece. Typically, you want to ask someone that has a good eye for detail, grammar and spelling—not your 7 year old son.
5. If you have time, put it aside for a while, then re-read it later.
by Trish McCabe Rawls