The fact is, typos creep into the copy of everyone from The New York Times to the tech consultant, Benedict Evans. But they don’t have to! Here, content creator Christopher Shulgan of the Toronto content marketing agency, Ghost Bureau, talks about some of the worst typos he’s seen — and provides three tips that will help you never make another typo again.
BY CHRISTOPHER SHULGAN, PARTNER, GHOST BUREAU
In a world dominated by AI algorithms that finish your sentences, and spellchecking functions on apps like Grammarly, Microsoft Word and Google Docs, it’s easy to forget to double-check your writing. Problem is, typos can seriously damage the credibility of the author. Multiple typos prompt the reader to wonder, how much effort did the writer put into this?
For example, Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Executioner’s Song, is riddled with errors, such as the wayward comma below.
Similarly, the consultant Benedict Evans, whose technology analysis I never fail to find insightful, publishes a weekly newsletter that drives me crazy because it reads like its been cluster-bombed with typos and grammatical mistakes. For example, there are two in the newsletter item below, about Nvidia. Plus — he uses hyphens to separate main points, when he should totally be using em-dashes! Do you SEE why his writing drives me a little crazy?
One of the places that should NEVER have typos is the New York Times. But even there, typos creep in. For example, in the sentence below, the writer has mixed up the word “affect” and “effect.” It’s maddening!
What’s The Worst Typo Ever?
For my money, that would be the cascading series of mistakes that happened after the 2012 commencement for students at the Lyndon B. Johnson School for Public Affairs at the University of Texas. When school officials distributed the ceremony pamphlet, parents of students were amused—and perhaps a little appalled—to discover that they had sent their children to the School of Pubic Affairs.
Worse, there was a similar mistake in the apology tweet the school sent out on Twitter:
Just one “g” in egregious, folks!
Anyway, that brings us to the whole point of this blog post: At Ghost Bureau, we specialize in creating video, social media, podcast and written content that are typo- and mistake-free! From which all errors have been eliminated! That are BEREFT of boners and FUMIGATED of flaws! So, if you’re writing something, may it be articles, newsletters, or even copy for videos, here are three techniques that our content-marketing agency uses to blast out the blunders:
Every bit of copy that goes out our door has been seen by at least two, and usually three, sets of eyes. That’s true of social media posts, email newsletters, white papers… AND especially brand videos. The point is to get a fresh perspective from someone who is coming to the content completely new. That way, they can take it in as though they’re consuming it for the first time. Which for some reason allows them to see mistakes better than someone who is going over the content for the 20th time.
Tip 2: Print out the writing and read the hard copy
This tip works well for editorial copy, blog posts or any kind of long-form writing. Print out your work, on paper, and then take some time away from the project. Go for a walk, do 25 push-ups, grab a drink of water. Put all your technology away and go to a room without screens. Then take a pen or pencil and read the hard copy from start to finish. I GUARANTEE you that you will detect new problems, and devise fresh solutions — and that the final draft will be much better as a result.
Tip 3: Read it backward
Yup, you read that right; take the time to read your copy backward! This is an old copywriting technique that many of us learned in j-school — and you can use it when producing video, too, to ferret out mistakes in title cards or lower-third identifiers. The idea is to pull the focus away from the meaning of the text, so that you can devote all your attention to the spelling of the words. This technique helps correct punctuation errors, grammar and spelling mistakes.
To sum up:
The best marketers and content creators know that content marketing needs to be mistake-free. After all, your customers will interpret typos and grammatical errors as an indication of the level of service they should expect from you. So if you’re bothering to create content, make the effort required to keep it mistake free.
Ghost Bureau is a Toronto content-marketing agency that specializes in creating content for corporations. If you’re a marketing director or entrepreneur seeking content creators to produce everything from brand videos to podcasts to blog posts, contact Ghost Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about rates. And if you appreciate the advice, don’t forget to subscribe to the Ghost Bureau YouTube feed!