Terrible Typos: The Essential Habit of Proofreading

Category: On Writing Posted: February 26th, 2017

Whether you’re a jounalist, copywriter, content manager, or novelist, the terrible typo is always there lurking to catch you out. In the internet era it’s a particular curse, with readers eager to wade into the comments sections and point out the glaring error and, back in my day, they used to proofread!

These are exceptionally busy times. As┬áthe former, sole copywriter for a digital agency, the luxury of proofreading wasn’t often available. Overwhelmed with work, I simply had to throw myself into it all and then take a verbal drubbing later for any errors made. It was this or not get the work done.

The Typo

The gut-wrenching horror of seeing a typo, to this day, is a curse over any writer. It genuinely makes you feel pretty atrocious – you become angry with yourself and wonder how you could have made such an elementary error.

Proofreading is, of course, the only solution, and it depends on the managerial setup you have. Consequently, businesses, agencies, or press outlets must afford their staff some time to proofread work. Preferably, hand it over to someone else to check – it’s astonishing how you can re-read some content multiple times and miss a glaring error.

The Grauniad & Clients

Famously, the Grauniad paper made a name for itself with typos (not something it commits anymore, I must add), whilst we’ve seen many online commenters jumping in to point out perceived errors as typos. As a copywriter, I also suffered from this – one client insisted I was incorrect when it came to describing “the staff is” (singular, as there is only one staff). This was a typo, apparently, and it was supposed to be “the staff are” which, as far as I’m aware, is still live on this company’s site!

This isn’t a typo, of course, it’s simply a grammatical error. However, in this online era the typo is always there lurking and ready to throw people off, and with the lines between American and British English becoming increasingly blurred, online commenters are becoming increasingly angry in their anguish with language.

The Luxury of Proofreading

Meanwhile, as a content manager now, I have the luxury of more time and can proofread my work thoroughly. The result? Less personal anguish as there are fewer typos, but it is an annoyance which will continue to haunt writers across the world.

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