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Typos are to your blog what some guy’s cell phone is to a movie theater

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Image of a typo on a newsstand

Sirsnapsalot / Flickr

One of the most irritating things in the world to me is when I’m sitting in a movie theater and someone’s cell phone goes off. I know I’m not alone because of the ubiquity of those “please turn off your phones” ads that play right after the dancing candy before every movie.

It’s not so much that it’s overtly rude or inconsiderate — though it is, and it is — it’s that when you’re in a movie, you’re immersed in a world; your mind is in a dreamlike state and a cell phone ring has the same effect as your mom shaking you awake from a dream saying, “It’s time for school!”

Typos distract and take away your message

A similar thing happens when someone comes across a typo in your writing.

Think about being lost in a good book that you’re reading for the first time when suddenly, you see something like: Dno’t Panic.

It’s a tiny blip — two letters reversed in a sea of tens of thousands — but it’s enough that, now you’re thinking about the typo more than the world you’re supposed to be in.

You’ll never know what you lost from one typo

Your blog is likely not anyone’s favorite book, and given the nature of the medium, people are probably skimming rather than getting lost. Blogging does allow you to go back and fix a typo once you’ve published, but while you can take back typos, you can never take back someone’s first (often only) time reading.

After someone is jolted by a typo, will they keep reading long enough to want to share your post? Save the link? Link to it in one of their posts? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep typos away at all costs.

What to do: Let It Stew

I stick to the Let It Stew rule: Unless my post is insanely brief, I let my words sit for at least an hour so I can forget about them and come back to copy edit with fresh eyes.

You’d be amazed how well this works. It’s probably the closest you can get to having another person proofread your post (and hey, if you’ve got that, go for it).

You can probably find a lot of other tricks out there, too, by Googling. Of course, we all know by now to use spellcheck, but remember: spellcheck won’t catch a misled like this one.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Brian Calvert

    Paul,

    This is a great point.  I think both you and I have been writing about that “first impression” you make on a reader, listener, or viewer.  Sometimes, once that impression is made, it’s been made.  Hopefully it was a god impression.  And I really appreciate your “Let it Stew” concept.  I will be applying that personally right away…awesome point.

    Mind if I re-post this?

  • Feel free to grab a portion of it and link back, yeah.

    Thanks for commenting!

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