When do we use our handwriting these days – put pen to paper?
I don’t know anyone who handwrites letters, apart from my 99-year-old grandma, who has wonderful, copperplate writing.
The only time I can think of is when writing birthday cards – that’s the only time my handwriting gets an outing.
And here’s the thing I’ve spotted: I never make a mistake – a typo – when writing things by hand. There’s something about the direct connection between pen and paper (or card) that stops this happening. The words are flowing out of the pen as you think of them, so you don’t tend to miss out letters or whole words.
Conversely, I do make typos when typing onscreen – whether directly onto a Word/Pages doc, a CMS, in Photoshop, or on social media.
There’s a strange disconnect between the words leaving your head, typing them on a keyboard, and them finally appearing onscreen.
As a copywriter, I trade in letters and words – I shouldn’t be missing letters or whole words, or mispelling words, but it does happen.
Then again, I shouldn’t be proofreading my own work, but often there’s no-one else to do it (more on this in a bit).
Typos can seem small or insignificant, but they’re irritating and detract from the overall message you’re trying to get across.
They’re also potentially damaging if, again, you trade in words – they make you look a bit daft.
Only a few days ago, I made two typos when posting on @OneMinuteBriefs’ Twitter feed.
The first was in a competition entry (a poster created in Photoshop) where I’d missed out a ‘t’ in ‘Nick Entwistle’ – typing ‘Enwistle’ instead (I was sure I’d hit the ‘t’ key twice…).
The second was in this comment:
‘Good first effort. Keep ’em coming (from someone with a scattergun approach to OMBs). OMBs are nice, little, daily creative challenge and #OMBLES are a supportive bunch.’
At first glance, this comment looks okay, but a second glance reveals a missing ‘a’ after ‘are’ and a missing comma between ‘daily’ and ‘creative’.
I spotted these errors hours after I’d posted the comment, so it had already had a good airing.
This is still a far cry from my top three typos though, which I’ll reveal to you now, before some quick tips:
1. On a charity fundraising piece: ‘You could organise a fete, have a tea morning, go for a sponsored swim or w*nk’ (if you haven’t already worked it out, that last word should be ‘walk’).
2. On a charity DM piece: ‘A safe and loving environment, in which children can be neutured’ (that should be ‘nurtured’…)
3. To end an email: ‘Best fishes’. No idea why. I sometimes use this on purpose now, to check if someone’s paying attention (largely to friends, or people I have a good relationship with).
These are far from the only typos I’ve made, but they’re the ones that stick in my mind.
Obviously, you want to avoid these errors, so here are five tips on eliminating typos from your work:
1. The overnight test: don’t read your work straight after you’ve written it, as you’ll read what you want to read (what you think is on the page). Wait until the next morning and read it then, with a fresh perspective on it.
2. Get someone else to proof your work. This should always be the case, in an ideal world, but due to time constraints it very often doesn’t happen.
3. Print out your work and read it. For some reason, it can be hard to spot mistakes onscreen – reading a printed copy means you’re more likely to spot errors.
4. Read it aloud. You’ll naturally trip over missing words, letters, or punctuation.
5. Put your work in situ. If it’s web content, put it on the page it’s supposed to go on and read it there. If it’s e.g a DM piece, lay out the copy within the design and read it there.
Right – that’ll do.
Now all I have to do is proof this to make sure there are no typos…