tips on how to avoid typos

Business typos can be embarrassing. They can even cost you a sale. Here are a few howlers to keep an eye out for:

Top 10 business typos

10. Pubic when you mean Public

This is so very, very easily done. When I worked at the Lake District National Park our Communications team would scour the Events Guide proofs for every instance of ‘public transport’.

9. It’s Manager not Manger

I think all Spellchecker programmes should flag ‘manger’. With maybe an opt-out clause if you’re running a stable or farm?

8. Manner not Manor

‘Manor’ means stately home or home patch if you’re a gangster. One to watch out for on CVs. I saw one where a candidate wrote ‘I have a helpful manor’. He didn’t get an interview.

7. Bear with me not Bare with me

Are you inviting someone to get naked with you? No? Then it’s ‘bear with’.

Think of a big grizzly bear giving you a bear hug. That’s the reason why it’s taking you some time to reply.

6. Its not it’s

If it belongs to something, such as “Its tower was built in Norman times” then you don’t need an apostrophe. The apostrophe replaces the second ‘i’ of ‘It is’, for example “It’s sunny outside.”

5. To and too

‘Too’ means also or something extra. It’s usually at the end of a sentence. Imagine the double Os as being extras. Extras on a James Bond 007 movie maybe?

Here are some examples of to and too in action:

“York is a brilliant city for shoppers to browse boutique and independent shops.”

“History lovers will be in their element. York is a great city for shoppers too.”

4. That that or the the

Repeated words usually happen when you’ve moved text around or deleted a chunk of writing. Watch the ends of lines and the starts of new ones in particular.

3. Your not you’re

In ‘you’re’ the apostrophe replaces the ‘a’ of ‘You are’ to allow you to say it faster.

Talking about something you own, such as ‘your business’? Then it belongs to you, and you should use Your.

2. Stationery and Stationary

‘Stationery’ means pens and paper, like a Stationery cupboard.

‘Stationary’ means something is standing still.

I picture Prince Harry waiting for a train at a London railway station so I can call him ‘arry like a Cockney!

1. It’s Sneak peek not Sneak peak

This happens all the time on social media.

‘Peak’ means a mountain. ‘Peek’ means to look. Think of having two eyes looking out of the holes in the ‘ee’.

Sneak peek or peak - image

Need more help with apostrophes?

Check out How to use apostrophes properly. Here I share my GCSE English teacher’s amazing apostrophe placement tip.

Why should you care about business typos?

Imagine looking at the window of a tailor. You can barely see through the dirty glass. Wires dangle down and the mannequin is lop-sided. The actual suit – from what you can see of it – looks amazing. But would you trust them to make you one? What if the tailor just a little further along had a beautiful window display with an equally well-tailored jacket?

Typos are the smeared windows and dangling electrical cables of your business messages. They signal:

  • Poor time management – you haven’t had time to check
  • A lack of attention to detail
  • An amateur approach to business

Who notices?

More people than you know! Many will be oblivious. But the ones who do will immediately get an uneasy feeling. And the old adage ‘people buy from people they trust’ holds true. Typos will lose you customers.

Being educated doesn’t necessarily mean a person is better at writing. Any pharmacist who has tried to decipher a doctor’s handwritten prescription will know this.

But at the risk of generalising, the people who notice mistakes are usually more highly educated. Which means there’s more chance they’re in more highly paid jobs. Do you really want to put off a potential customer who has money?

Don’t rely on your graphic designer

Creating a leaflet or brochure? Graphic designers are talented at images, but not necessarily words. Typos can creep in when they juggle the text and images to fit in the space.

The words are your responsibility, not theirs. If you need to re-print, you may have to pay. So always check the final proof before you sign-off.

Here are just some examples from final proofs:

  • Finnish instead of Finish
  • Tea Party’s instead of Tea Parties
  • Natinal instead of National
  • Ink Gardner instead of Ink Gardener – if I had a pound for every time…

How to avoid typos

Our brains are very good at reading what we expect to see, rather than what’s there. Here are some ideas to try:

Danger words

Spellcheck won’t spot these, so always run a search for them:

  • Pubic
  • Manger
  • Manor
  • Bare
  • Stationery
  • Peak

Ways to double-check for typos

  1. Uncertain what it should be? Google the phrase, keeping an eye on whether the page is talking about UK or US English.
  2. Reading on screen? Change it to a different font and size. This forces the brain to read your words as if for the first time.
  3. Run Spellcheck.
  4. Print your document onto paper and read it. Our attention span drops 25% when we read on screen.
  5. Ask someone else to read it, preferably the office pedant.
  6. Sleep on it. Write your words on one day, publish the next. Overnight your brain refreshes and will look at your work differently.

Pop quiz hot shot! Can you spot them?

Hey, bad typos happen to good people. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

Here are just some I’ve seen recently:

Typo by BBC

Typos on a website schedule

Typos in a magazine advertorial

Answers to the typos in the quiz

  • ’60 Years of TV Averts’ – should be ‘Adverts’. And this was the BBC!
  • ‘Lanacshire Wine’ should be ‘Lancashire Wine’ and ‘Upcyceled Candlestick’ should be ‘Upcycled’
  • ‘surefire’ not ‘sure fire’, there’s a full stop at the end of the header for 3 which doesn’t follow the style. Plus ‘Many SMB owners who don’t yet have a website are believe it takes too long’ should not have the ‘are’.

More business typos in action

Need some help with the rest of your writing?

I’m not a proofreader, but I do love to write Google-friendly web content and blogs. Plus I can manage your social media or train you in how to it yourself. Just get in touch for an obligation-free chat!

PS Did you spot the deliberate typo above? A gold star if you did!