Pay attention

stay calm and no typos

And to adapt another phrase, every typo matters.

From a consumer’s point of view, a mistake of any sort, design or copy, tells them that the brand talking to them is either unprofessional or just doesn’t care enough about their brand to double check these things. And if the brand doesn’t care, then why should they?

Of course I understand the time pressures of deadlines, the number of people who have to approve the work and the time it takes to get it uploaded or to the printers, etc., etc. And I also understand that some people may see proofreading as yet another time-slowing process in the chain but, people, it is important!

So am I being pedantic? Let’s take a look. Here’s an example from Sainsbury’s. With over 1,000 stores across the UK, you’d think they’d know better, right? Wrong.

Innocent

Did you spot it? Yep, ‘kid’s juices’ is missing that all-important apostrophe. Instead of saying juices for kids they’re saying actual kids juices – those poor innocent kids! I don’t care how good the offer is, you can keep it.

My next example is for Fortnum and Mason, London’s high-end department store. Now this is a real rookie error; you think they’d know better.

Fortnum and Mason

So how do we avoid these small but oh, so big mistakes happening? If you’re in charge of the words, don’t be lazy. Yes, use the spell checker but don’t always trust it. If you’ve spelt the word correctly but simply misused it, it may not pick it up. Like the Fortnum and Mason example above when they said ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’. Plus, it never hurts to get someone else to proof read your copy as it’s easy for the brain to read what you meant to say and miss what you’ve actually written.

And my final example is a great one (stop reading now if you’re easily offended). Now I’m not sure if this was a genuine mistake or just a great PR stunt but it certainly didn’t go unnoticed.

susanalbumparty

You saw the hashtag? How could you miss it? But whether it was intentional or not, something was published that didn’t help poor Susan or her brand. Yes, people engaged with the content and it was talked about and shared but not for the reasons Ms Boyle’s team would’ve wanted and probably not by the right people. It just goes to show that from lovely long copy to short, sweet hashtags, every piece of copy should be double-checked.

Mistakes will happen, after all we’re only human, but I think the solution is to make sure you have a good safety net in place so they don’t get through. So:

  • Read copy, take a break, then read it again
  • Use, but don’t solely rely on, the spell checker
  • Don’t proofread on screen (printing it out is always better)
  • Read it out loud, you’ll be amazed at how different it sounds
  • Some people even recommend reading copy backwards, that way you read the words not the sentences – good for spell checking, not sense checking
  • Get another pair of eyes on it

And will you find a typo in this post? I really hope not. It’s been checked enough times.

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