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Top tips on avoiding typos

January, 2015

Spelling mistakes can ruin your message. Philip Jones, Director of Kent PR agency Maxim, offers some advice on keeping your copy clean.

‘The bomber will always get through’ was Stanley Baldwin’s gloomy 1932 prediction as he pondered the impact aerial warfare would have in any coming European conflict.

I sometimes feel the same about typos and their uncanny ability to slip through the net.

Typographical errors are hardly a matter of life or death, but any mistake in a piece of marketing material can severely damage its credibility.

A mistake in a piece of literature for a public consultation will have residents questioning whether developers spelling their town Folkstone really will live up to the promised attention to detail, while a sloppy CV is guaranteed to end up in my bin. And, if you send my father a sales brochure full of spelling mistakes, he’ll return it (corrected), with a request to take him off your database.

But while it is hard to ensure a typo never gets through, there are steps that can be taken to minimise them.

Check your work

  • If time allows, put a piece of work to one side and then read again in an hour – preferably a day – later with fresh eyes
  • Get a colleague to check your work for you – that’s a golden rule at Maxim
  • Look at the non-core pieces of text such as headlines and captions
  • Check subject and verb agreement – especially when a sentence involves a phrase such as ‘a series of workshops is being held’
  • Don’t rely on your computer to pick up spelling mistakes – if you do, you’ll miss pubic relations, which is not really what Maxim is about
  • Dip in and out of longer documents at random. Reading text out of context can help flag up errors that your eyes and mind might otherwise glide over
  • Proofreading a hard copy can often be more effective than reading on screen
  • Watch out for homophones, particularly words you may not use frequently – rein/reign
  • If you have the time and patience, read text backwards – but it can be soul-destroying

Finally:

Check, check and check again. Even when something has been signed off and is ready to send or go to print, take five minutes to give it a final read through

With apologies for any typos that may have crept into the above.


  
 

Philip Jones - Director

Philip Jones

Maxim / Director

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