The importance of proofing

The Oxford English Corpus has collated a list of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. Accommodate, believe, chauffeur, embarrass and tomorrow are up there with the worst offenders and don’t forget i before e with receive.

Pop Quiz! Yes or No, are these words spelt correctly?

  1. bureaucracy
  2. liaison
  3. jewelry
  4. occurrance
  5. entrepreneur

If you answered Y, Y, N, N, Y, brace yourself for the falling confetti because you’re a winner! If you’re sitting in silence thinking ‘it’s just a little typo, does it really matter?’ The answer is yes, it does. A lot.

Admittedly, we’re all human so spelling stuff-ups, terrible typos and grammatical gaffs are real. But studies have shown customers are quick to spot something out of the ordinary and talk with their wallets. BBC News reported interesting findings from online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe. Charles measured revenue per visitor to a website with a typo and found that revenue was twice as high after the error was corrected. ”Analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half,” he says.

And it seems that a teeny tiny typo or mini misplaced apostrophe are an open invitation for an online storm of social media critics. Department store Myer discovered this first hand when they unveiled a seven-story banner sporting the phrase “Early bird get’s the right size”. Customers were so enthusiastic about the unnecessary addition that “apostrophe” started trending on twitter. More recently, The Age newspaper in Melbourne was in damage control after it printed a half page client ad commiserating the Western Bulldogs on their AFL Grand Final loss. (The Bulldogs had actually won their first flag in 62 years and the client, the winning team’s major sponsor, wasn’t exactly thrilled – oops). Even big brands come undone with little errors. Nothing is unnoticed in the digital age!

So, we’re beginning to see that people are unforgiving when it comes to these kinds of errors but why does it cause so much angst and why does it matter to your brand? Because typos can result in a lack of trust. Customers only dedicate a few moments of their precious time to your website/social feed/magazine et cetera and if something is amiss, they begin to loose faith in your integrity. Ouch.

With the more informal way we’re now using language across social media, it can be tricky to make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. We’re all focused on pushing more and more content out the door really fast and when we do things really fast, it’s easy to make mistakes. So before you post, print or package, slow down and double check everything! (Not that slow! You’d never get anything done.) But the tips below are a good compromise.

  1. Don’t just rely on spell check.

Sorry to be the barer of bad news, oops, I mean bearer. There are a lot of good things about spell check but on the flipside, there are also gaps in what it can pick up – like actual words used in the wrong way. I once received an email that was signed off with ‘Weird Regards.’ Words that sound the same but have different meanings are also let through the spell check keeper. I wonder weather she knows about the whether? And please don’t tell a vegetarian to meat you at the office. Proofing will pick up on the errors that spell check can’t.

  1. Get someone else to read.

Ever heard the saying four eyes are better than one? Well you have now and it’s true. Get someone else to scan content before you make it public, especially when updating your website. Proofing isn’t always an option when you need to get out a quick social media post which is when number three comes in handy.

  1. Content planning ahoy!

You can’t plan for everything but there’s a lot you can do to be proactive online. Map out milestones and prepare posts and content in advance. That way you’ll always have something up your sleeve for those quiet days and it provides a good chance to re-read messages again when it’s actually time to distribute them.

That should keep you out of trouble. However, if you need a hand making sure your content creates a buzz for all the right reasons, Cuckoo Creative houses a host of talented copywriters to strengthen your brand’s digital presence. And we love proofreading. Really.