Will everyone please shut up about the typos on blogs? Show me someone who is blogging every day and also complains about someone’s typos. Just try. See? You can’t. Because anyone who is trying to come up with fresh ideas, and convey them in an intelligent, organized way, on a daily basis, has way too many things on their plate to complain about other peoples’ typos.

There is a new economy for writing. The focus has shifted toward taking risks with conversation and ideas, and away from hierarchical input (the editorial process) and perfection.

As the world of content and writing shifts, the spelling tyrants will be left behind. Here are five reasons why complaining about typos is totally stupid and outdated.

1. Spellchecker isn’t perfect.
Everyone knows that Spellchecker misses some words. And everyone knows that sometimes we think we are making a stylistic choice when we have actually made a grammar error.

And anyway, it’s nearly impossible for us to catch the errors that Spellchecker misses. If it were tenable to proofread one’s own stuff, then there would never have been a copy editor to begin with. And there is research to show that if the first and last letter of a word are correct then our brain adjusts for all the letters in between. (My personal favorite of all Spellchecker problems: form and from. Try it—there are so many cases when both words will get past Spellchecker.)

So don’t bitch to me that I should use Spellchecker.

2. Spelling has nothing to do with intelligence.
Usually the person who is bitching about spelling errors also has to make some comment about how the blogger in question is a moron—but you might want to rethink the idea that a spelling error is a sign of incompetence.

Many people with dyslexia are very smart. Most kids who win spelling bees have many signs of Asperger’s syndrome (see the documentary on this, which I love). This means that many amazing spellers actually have brains that are developing intellectual skills (in this case, spelling skills) at the expense of social skills.

So people who have spelling problems might be super intelligent with great social skills—if you’d just take the time to notice.

3. You don’t have unlimited time, so spend it on ideas, not hyphens.
I am extremely knowledgeable about grammar. I can parse any sentence. I can sign the preposition song in my sleep. So I feel fine telling you that there are great writers who don’t know grammar.

Real grammarians, by the way, have memorized the AP Stylebook. Newspapers and magazines have people who are paid to enforce these rules. There is no way a blogger could hire for this, and few bloggers can justify spending the years it takes to memorize The AP Stylebook. So you could spend your life reading the AP Stylebook, or you could spend your life spouting ideas.

So what if your ideas have hyphens in the wrong places and you turn an adverb into a noun? People can almost always figure out what you’re saying anyway, but they won’t care enough to try without a great idea lurking there to attract their effort. And there’s a reason that people who have amazing ideas get paid twenty times more than people who have amazing grammar: Ideas are worth a lot more to us.

4. Perfectionism is a disease.
If errors bother you a lot, consider that you might be a perfectionist, which is a disorder. Perfectionists are more likely to be depressed than other people because no amount of work seems like enough. They are more likely to be unhappy with their work because delegating is nearly impossible if you are a perfectionist. And they are more likely to have social problems because people mired in details cannot look up and notice the nuances of what matters to other people.

5. Use the comments section for what matters: Intelligent discourse.
The comments section of a blog is a place for people to exchange ideas. The best comments sections, of which I think mine is one, is full of smart, curious people who don’t spend as much time finding perfect answers (are there any?) as finding good questions. The best comments sections are full of people helping each other to sharpen the questions we ask.

So blogging is not an homage to perfectionism but rather an homage to the art of being curious. And while old journalism was hell-bent on being Right and being The Authority, new journalism understands that news is a commodity and opinion-makers are the layer that goes on top of the news to make it resonate. So stop wasting your time in the comments section parsing grammar and start contributing to the discussion.

236 replies
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  1. Michael
    Michael says:

    What a long and pompous praising of the trivial ignorance.
    If a person wasn’t capable to study hard enough to learn language sufficiently, why should anyone consider his knowledge and opinion on other questions valuable and mature enough? Correct spelling makes a good pre-screening; if you are considering whether you should invest time into reading something long, overlook it for errors – if you spot spelling errors immediately, just spend your time elsewhere. Good that you write correctly yourself, otherwise I’d just ignore the whole post as a nonsense.
    If a person doesn’t care that his broken spelling makes his posts harder to read, this means that he doesn’t care of the readers’ comfort. Why should a reader bother bursting through the broken ciphers then? It will be a lack of self-respect to read something what is not intended for you.
    And by the way, don’t you know that the ideas worth NOTHING? Their realization is what worths. Everyone has a lot of great ideas; only ones who do the boring part of putting them to life gain millions. And for just sharing an idea, the idea realization is its text. Having it incorrect means having it realized poorly.
    Stop making excuses with the politically correct “dyslexia” and “ADD” bullshit – most people are not dyslexic or ADDed, they are just ignorant, and should just learn harder rather than be considered medically doomed. Dyslexia is heavily farfetched to quieten the parents about their child lazyness.

    Finally: don’t be such a troll posting such controversial stuff in the hope of temporary traffic increase, it won’t increase the regular readers base. Trolling is outdated. And don’t feed the ignorants either – favouring the ignorance weakens the mankind.

  2. Michael
    Michael says:

    And a little metaphor for the final: correctly written text is like a good cooked dish – it is more easy and effective to consume. Mistakes in writing and cooking just distract you from the chief task of reading and eating. Being a gourmet, you just cannot accept the fast food, even if it also provides nutrients; your self-respect just won’t let you inefficiently waste your time on undereating. And thank new haven, in 21st century there is always a lot of other food to choose from.

  3. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    But Michael…

    Your comment is full of mistakes, sir. Sounds like you had a lot to communicate and thought you could allocate time/energy away from proofreading.

  4. Dale
    Dale says:

    When all is said and done, we are judged based upon our ideas. Distractions like typos matter only in the greater context of the audience as in,”Will this audience be so distracted by typos that the gist of my message will be lost or that I will lose credibility.

    In a forum of english teachers, one situation applies, among engineering students, another takes precedence.
    It all depends on context.

  5. Michael
    Michael says:

    Sorry Andrea; I have to admit that the time I spent to learn English wast just a tiny fraction of the time I spent to learn my native language. I am really sorry if the mistakes in my comment made it hard for you to read; but still hating the ignorance and ignorance connivance nevertheless, I really appreciate if you show me the mistakes in my comment.

  6. sarah
    sarah says:

    @FY If you pop over to the website my name links to, you’ll notice that I’m in that field too, and have been for almost a decade. I’m in the journal and science side, rather than the book publishing side, and both I and everyone I have ever worked with in that capacity has always been an ‘editor’. And the point remains, P. was indulging in semantics to sidestep the point.

  7. JenFlex
    JenFlex says:

    @ Joselle: As another writer first and editor second, I couldn’t agree more. Every part of your life and experience contributes to your writing ability.

    I would agree with P. if the post were “typos happen; fix and move on,” or even if it was just a call for civility in commenting on this topic. What I can’t buy into is the notion that typos are beneath notice, or that people who notice them are somehow fools.

    Things **matter**. Isn’t that the point of being any kind of blogger or writer?

  8. Michael Henreckson
    Michael Henreckson says:

    Perfectionism is a disease. I have it. It’s nasty sometimes, but it helps with the grades. Poor consolation I know.

    Spell-checker still has a place, and that place is in academic writing, or anything that is published on paper. You still need to have proof reading because things can get really out of hand if you don’t. For instance, a cell phone carrier prints brochures for their stores and then after they’re all printed and shipped send a follow-up note that says, oops, we put the wrong price on one of the features there, you’ll have to ignore it.

    In online writing, there’s not time for perfection. I hate to say it, but it’s true. I know my writing is never perfect. Some of us are still going to notice typo’s though. It’s a fact of life which some of us can’t escape.

  9. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I’ll skip any commenting on spelling and grammar and go straight to the last paragraph. I totally agree with your statement – “And while old journalism was hell-bent on being Right and being The Authority, new journalism understands that news is a commodity and opinion-makers are the layer that goes on top of the news to make it resonate.” I used to get the local newspaper delivered seven days a week until the end of last year. The local newspaper news coverage is more comprehensive and complete than the local TV news or any online site. However the newspaper or TV medium is a news source and does not serve in a direct way as a dialogue for the members of the community. There are some exceptions (e.g. – letters to the editor and a telephone call to a guest on TV) but nothing that comes close to publishing on the Internet and blogs in particular. I complain or make a comment while reading the newspaper or watching TV and get no feedback. I do the same thing in a blog comment section and who knows – someone may be actually reading my comment and comment back!

  10. Dave Atkins
    Dave Atkins says:

    I have the same attitude in general, but I would observe that you never know what typos are going to get in the way of your ideas. It can be arrogant to assume that people should have understood what you ‘really’ meant. When I start to get slopy, it’s a slippery slope to arrogance which becomes boring to readers. I’m walking and typing on a phone now, so excuse ny typos.

  11. John Lacey
    John Lacey says:

    Can you really “sign the preposition song in my sleep”? Or is that a typo? lol

    I must admit I take people VERY LITERALLY, and am amazed at how frequently a couple of transposed characters in a word can totally change the meaning of a thought entirely.

  12. Shellynn
    Shellynn says:

    Did I see someone say that typos in a resume are okay? You have got to be kidding me. If you don’t care about your resume, you don’t deserve the job. I am a copyeditor and proofreader, and I believe good grammar is always important. Read copyblogger.com. If blogging is your job, approach it professionally. I wouldn’t point out errors on someone’s blog unless it’s factually incorrect or really distracting from the message, but if you really don’t care to even try, I don’t really care to read your blog.

  13. Mary Baum
    Mary Baum says:

    Okay. I got about two screens down and came across the following:

    “If, though, there are typos upon typos (or if the writing is just plain crappy), I *will* make a judgement about the poster's intellegence and attention to detail.”

    That was the second time I had seen the word ‘judgment’ misspelled, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to think about the commenter’s intelligence. (Not ‘intellegence’.)

    At this point I haven’t read the rest of the comments, so forgive me if you guys have covered this. But here’s where I think I stand:

    I can live with a few typos here and there — that means you’re tired, you’re thinking too fast or your fingers just slipped. I’m a multiple offender myself, reformed only by those squiggly red lines that, blessedly, have now worked their way into the last two versions of Adobe InDesign.

    I think misspellings are different, and I think spell-check often knows the difference. I know there are a lot of fine writers who can’t spell worth a damn, so I’m working on not flinching when I come across a doozy (‘artical’ instead of ‘article’).

    But I do think the dictionary is a little like the AP Style Book — I’ll grant Penelope that a writer doesn’t need to have the thing memorized. But it sure would be nice for us readers to know you’ve cracked its covers once or twice.

  14. Huck Finn
    Huck Finn says:

    People actually use SpellChecker? I prefer to keep a pocket dictionary in, well, my back pocket for those days I’m not sure of a word.

    Typos are one thing; grammar is another.

    I understand if you (and other bloggers) get frustrated when people point out typos. Accidents happen! Like you said, you’re dumping a stream of thoughts & ideas.

    If a wrod (<–on purpose, but I don’t know why) is misspelled here and there, it’s because you’re trying to convey the message vs. offer a grammatical lesson. Brainstorming is not a thinking exercise, it’s just a brain dump.

    In general, I can deal with a few typos.

    What I can’t handle are significant grammatical errors:

    there/their/they’re, apostrophe placements (is’nt), your/you’re, ownership issues (it’s, its), etc…

    Those errors make me question a person’s intellect. Typos interrupt the flow; egregious grammar is the killer.

  15. Martha
    Martha says:

    If people dislike typos and judge you on them, wouldn’t it be wise to minimize it? It’s as if you wore a bikini to a job interview and said, “I can’t believe these idiots think my bikini is unprofessional! Get with it, you idiots!” If you want to appear professional to the public, you do what the public thinks is professional. For myself, if people can’t even get their spelling or punctuation right, I wonder what other more important details they might be lax about.

  16. Jeri Dansky
    Jeri Dansky says:

    Two points:

    1. I’ll often send e-mail to bloggers when I notice typos, and most are grateful and correct them immediately. I in turn appreciate it when someone points out one of mine out to me. Hopefully I don’t make too many. I think using comments to complain about typos is somewhat tacky.

    2. This discussion, especially the part about resumes, reminds me of a post from Seth Godin just today:
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/04/little-scraps.html

  17. Patricia Robb
    Patricia Robb says:

    I’m tired and I’ll probably make a lot of errors right now, but I’ll try anyway.

    I think it depends on what type of blog you have. I am in a profession where correct spelling matters. My blog is about my profession, so I think I need to pay attention to that or my readers will not take me seriously.

    I blog every day as well and it takes a lot of time and effort, but I do read my post over a few times to make sure there are no spelling errors.

    I do agree with you that the comment section is not the place for a discussion on typos (except of course in this case because that was your topic). If I did have typos in my post I would not be offended if someone pointed that out in a private e-mail and not on a public comment board.

    I think your point was that it “shouldn’t” matter, but I think it really does. Especially in a blog when the written word is all we are using to communicate with.

    Maybe it’s my generation, but spelling does matter to me. Can’t help it.

    Patricia

  18. Debra K
    Debra K says:

    I loved your post. I think people are missing the point here. You’re not saying that one should not proofread or care about making mistakes, but if one is missed by chance in a "blog", which can happen to anyone, a reader shouldn’t get anal and point it out as if you committed the holiest of errors. How many of your readers write a blog? Do they realize the how hard it is to come up with ideas day in and day out and then the time which is involved to write it? How you have children to take care of, how you are going through a divorce, how you are trying to start a business venture? Who has time to knit pick and worry over an accidentally misspelled word, on a blog no less?

    I don't understand some of your readers. They put you down because you mention foot fungus, for discussing your divorce, for saying a typo now and then shouldn't be a big deal, etc. Yet they somehow keep coming back to read your posts. Which proves your point that content is what is most important. We should always strive to do the best job possible, I don't think you are disagreeing with that, but nobody is perfect. And when writing a blog ceases to be fun because so many people want to pick it to death, what blogger will want to deal with that negativity anymore?

  19. Robert W.
    Robert W. says:

    If someone was rude to you, Penelope, then that’s wrong. But why criticize someone trying to help you?

    I deeply appreciate well written English, be it in books, newspapers, or blogs. Saying that the presence of errors in the latter should no longer be important doesn’t sit well with me. And what example does it give to students, many of whom can barely construct a sentence at at the best of times?

  20. hallie
    hallie says:

    I’m loving this entry. I’m a blogger and of course, typos slip through the cracks all the time. when you’re writing 10 hours a day, you start to get over your perfectionism (ok not completely). When I’m writing for magazines and newspapers typos are no big deal – but when I’m working for online mags or blogs – they rarely put my writing through fact check and copy editors so I’m way more conscious of my shortcomings (not that that stops them from leaking out anyway) What helped me let go of if somewhat – was years ago I dated a guy who was a much more successful writer than myself. He and his friends were sort of THE big deals in the business then (and still are really). I told him that I was a sh*#ty speller and that my comma usage was tragic. He told me that none of the good writers he knew, including himself, could spell. For whatever reason that made a huge difference to me. He’s since won an Academy award and an Emmy for best writing, and I doubt he stays up at night worrying about typos.
    Thanks for another great post.

    ps: When it comes to resumes and cover letters – I do believe that typos of any kind are unacceptable. There’s so much competition that when I have been doing the hiring, my first pass has always been to toss anything with errors. Then I go back through the very few that are left and start looking at qualifications…

  21. Neil C.
    Neil C. says:

    Penelope,

    You are doing a real disservice if you are telling young people entering the job market not to worry about spelling mistakes on a cover letter or resume. When we hire I usually get 15 resumes a day & will eliminate any that don’t take time to check their spelling. I know for a fact I am not the only one who can’t stand it when someone misspells my name (Neal or Niel instead of Neil) & it is little things like this that may short circuit a career. Like it or not you do not look intelligent when you make spelling or grammar mistakes which reduces your credibility.

    You made some good points in this post about perfectionists, dislexia and the fact that some of the people with the best personal/sales skills can’t spell worth a lick (my wife if one of these) I know some of the best salespeople in our company that spell worse than that guy from Flowers for Algernon but perception is reality & it is imporant to look intelligent in your writing.

  22. Dale
    Dale says:

    Great post. I think nit picking on typos on this type of thing gives some people a sense of superiority. They’re not confident enough to take the risk and go out and blog something, and face the potential criticism of people. Instead they’ll just sit on the sidelines and try to pick on others that do it. It’s kinda like the guys who make fun of a friend for trying out for a spot on the football team. At least he had the courage to take the risk of failure, and he’ll be a lot better for it than all the people on the side snickering.

  23. Diane
    Diane says:

    In regard to the comment about “a few typos on a resume being OK”, I think it may depend on the job. In some jobs, being obsessive-compulsive about details is a plus. For example, if I was looking at a resume for someone applying for a position to design machinery, I want someone who cares deeply about every little detail. Those details can make the difference between a good, safe, functioning piece of machinery and an expensive fiasco. Even small errors can result in expensive rework and delays. I’ve checked over the work of people who didn’t think details were critical – “fiasco” is a kind word for it. I ended up working several 16-hour days to get things “more or less” fixed – I say “more or less” because some of the fixes were done in less than ideal ways, but were the shortest route from disaster to acceptable results.

    So I guess the best way to summarize my point is that if someone is going for a job where they know details are critical, they should proofread and proofread and have a friend proofread so that they can demonstrate that they can get details right. If the job is not one where details are so critical, then they need to consider how much time to spend on checking materials. A little bit, to make sure there are no egregious errors, is a big plus; a large amount, in quest of a minor grammatical mistake that most people would never notice, may not be a productive use of time.

  24. William Peregoy
    William Peregoy says:

    I always make grammatical mistakes while blogging…. sometimes I notice them while reading my post after I publish it (which I always do), and I go back in and edit and fix them.

    However, where I tend not to go back and fix errors is mainly in comments I leave on other people’s blogs…. because there’s usually not an ‘edit’ button, so you just have to live with small errors – essentially y’all will know what I’m saying anyway.

    The other thing is… unless you have somebody else proof read your stuff, you can’t catch all the grammatical errors yourself, because like you said – there’s research that shows that you can “there is research to show that if the first and last letter of a word are correct then our brain adjusts for all the letters in between.” That’s true and it’s especially true of your own work, when you go back and read what you just wrote, you read what you know in your head you wrote, rather than what’s actually there – so you may not catch from/form or sign/sing, etc. But somebody else coming in and reading your post for it is probably will. As blogger’s we don’t have time to get somebody to proofread, we’re spilling out our ideas right now. So, typos and little errors will happen, its commonplace, but that’s perfectly fine.

  25. Olivier
    Olivier says:

    It is fine to be sloppy if you are more of an idea rat (can’t find the cartoon right now, alas) but in execution attention to detail is key…

  26. Virginia
    Virginia says:

    Perfectionism is not only a disease, it is a misnomer. Perfectionist are not looking for perfection, they are looking for flaws. Imperfectionism is a more apt term, but perfectionists wouldn’t like that, now would they?

  27. Carny Asada
    Carny Asada says:

    A literary friend sent me a link to this entry with the comment “… signs of the Apocalypse.” But as soon as I read the first sentence, I knew you.

    You were the girl who wrote the column on Yahoo Jobs saying it was so out-of-date to worry about typos on your resume. Then about 160 human resources professionals left comments on your article telling you how very, very wrong you were.

    As you still don’t seem to have gotten the message, let me make it a little more clear to you why someone who writes for a living might want to avoid spelling errors. Take this sentence from your post:

    “I can sign the preposition song in my sleep.”

    I have no idea what you mean by this. Are you using sign language or singing? If you were someone who cared about spelling, I would guess the former. But since you don’t care whether your writing is spelled correctly or not, it’s pretty ambiguous.

    Anyway, I-Love-Typos-Girl, you have certainly created a presence for yourself on the Internet. I hope this whole blog thing works out for you, because I am skeptical that an editor will ever hire you to write for pay. Life is too short to have to fix the foul-ups of someone who doesn’t even care enough to try to do the job right the first time.

  28. Sir Loin of Beef
    Sir Loin of Beef says:

    This post ties neatly into the one last year, in which you said that it doesn’t matter that journalists misquote people all the time, since it’s all narrative and everyone “has their own truth.”

    Precisely what *does*, matter, Penelope? That you have a new website that reads like the op-ed pages of a third-tier college newspaper?

  29. cindy*staged4more
    cindy*staged4more says:

    I am okay with typos on personal blogs, because I am no saint myself. I do hold it against them when the writer clearly can’t differentiate you’re vs. your, their vs. there. But professional blogs, i.e. people who write for business, it’s best not to leave typos!

    I wrote a blog once that was featured in an industry blog network of my field and I had a typo in the title itself! I thought I was going to die when I got an email telling me that.

  30. Rachael
    Rachael says:

    “All excuses to institutionalize mediocrity.

    If you can't take five minutes to look over your writing, or CARE enough to take five minutes to look over your writing, what does that really say about the writer?

    I'll tell you what it says – "good enough".

    Bring this attitude to the workplace and we are all in a lot of trouble. If the blog world is your workplace, even more trouble.”

    I second this statement. It is sad that some young, impressionable people may visit this blog and take your misguided opinions to heart. This blog was a waste of time. Do you realize what it was? It was an overly long defense (and a poor one at that) for your lack of detail. I can’t speak for anyone else, but typos here and there will happen. How you handle it is a different story. You say it’s not important, but yet give a long, bullshit “defense”. Certain people may not care anymore, but there are a lot of people out there, like me, who do.

    You have poor time management, Penelope. If you can’t take five minutes to proofread your blog and use tools out there such as a dictionary, thesaurus, or an AP Stylebook, we are in trouble!

    Here’s the problem with Gen Y: it’s the further dumbing down of America. They don’t care about anything, not just about spelling and grammar. Truly, they are mediocre just like you.

  31. rebecca
    rebecca says:

    Whether you like it or not, typos hurt your credibility. Then again, the relevance of credibility in the blogging age is questionable. And THAT would be an interesting topic to hear your thoughts on.

  32. melanie
    melanie says:

    Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees! I thought the point of the post was for people to stop using the comments section to point out and complain about typos in the actual post. And a nice little pat on the head to all who employed typos to make their argument. Not to worry–we won’t think less of you.

  33. leslie
    leslie says:

    Traditional publishing companies have never expected authors to be good at spelling. When you are into the concepts the details just get in the way. However, the job of proof reader has not gone by the wayside yet. No one should ever proof read their own work, instead its best to give it to a friend to look over, not just for spelling but for overall tone and quality of writing.

  34. Jessie
    Jessie says:

    I agree with the idea of accepting typos. I am a believer in the value of content over display. As a mediocre speller myself, I do not always want to take time away from other tasks to scrutinize my spelling. Spellchecker is good enough in my book, although as mentioned it does have its imperfections, but hey, so do the rest of us.

  35. Chris
    Chris says:

    Even if typos do not hurt your credibility, you should still consider fact-checking your assertions. For example, it is not true that only the first and last letters of a word must be correct for readability. A simple internal reversal makes words hard to read:

    A slpmie ianretnl rasrevel mekas wdros hrad to raed.

    To stay more on topic, I think that the occasional typo or spelling error is understandable. However, it seems to me that it is one thing to make a small mistake like a typo – and quite another to state that it is simply not worth your time to bother with clear communication. I think some people believe that the former implies the latter.

  36. The Unknown Reader
    The Unknown Reader says:

    "In the airline industry, if passengers see coffee stains on the food tray, they assume the engine maintenance isn't done right." – €“ Don Burr, former CEO of People Express Airlines (Perception IS Reality)

    “In the blogosphere, if readers see typographical errors in posts, they assume the thinking behind the blog is flawed too.” — The Unknown Reader

  37. Nita
    Nita says:

    Hi Penelope. I couldn’t agree with you more here. I too blog 5 days a week and spend a lot of time on my blog and I have never ever gone on any other person’s blog to point out a tiny mistake. I simply do not have the time. I am also surprised by some people who seem to want to comment on blogs not to add to the discussion but to point out errors and that too in a rude way. I don’t have an editor or even a proofreader, I do it all on my own and make zero money from my blog. I am a perfectionist about certain things…mainly I try hard not to bore my readers! But about typos, well I make them but people try to make me feel as I am an idiot. Luckily I don’t :) as I am perfectly aware that there are enough brilliant people in this world who are average at grammar and there are enough people totally bereft of ideas and creativity who are good at grammar. In fact there are some people who make posts on their own blog simply to criticize another’s writing! This reveals their own petty mindset and reveals their lack of ideas.

  38. Steve
    Steve says:

    Last summer I took a Dale Carnegie course in communications. During an exercise, a fellow participant was using a flipchart to illustrate his talk. When he flipped from one sheet to the next, the turned page was slightly askew. The instructor stopped him and asked him to fix it, saying, “I know it’s a small thing, but people will be staring at it and not listening to what you’re saying.” He was right. That skewed page was distracting me, although I didn’t consciously think about it. Typos are like that.

  39. Noumenon
    Noumenon says:

    Jeez, Penelope, what about you brings out the haters? I was gonna talk about “sign/sing” too, but after what Carny Asada said it would be mean for me to pile on. And what Sir Loin of Beef says – why so mean, why is he here? (hmm — both meat-based puns — I wonder if they’re the same person?)

  40. Alonzo Turing
    Alonzo Turing says:

    “And there is research to show that if the first and last letter of a word are correct then our brain adjusts for all the letters in between.”

    Excerpt from cited research link:

    “This is clearly wrong. For instance, compare the following three sentences:

    1) A vheclie epxledod at a plocie cehckipont near the UN haduqertares in Bagahdd on Mnoday kilinlg the bmober and an Irqai polcie offceir

    2) Big ccunoil tax ineesacrs tihs yaer hvae seezueqd the inmcoes of mnay pneosenirs

    3) A dootcr has aimttded the magltheuansr of a tageene ceacnr pintaet who deid aetfr a hatospil durg blendur

    …The first and last letters have stayed in the same place and all the other letters have been moved. However, I suspect that your experience is the same as mine, which is that the texts get progressively more difficult to read.”

  41. tinyhands
    tinyhands says:

    Perhaps you need to clarify what you mean my “writing” as this covers quite a wide range of communications. There’s blogging, business communications (including proposals, resumes, press releases, etc), and personal communications. Put me in the “no typos” group for #2. I set blogging into its own category, as they may be either business or personal. I don’t expect perfection in a blog, although I set a higher standard for bloggers who aim to write as their occupation.

    I also think it’s interesting, as Patricia pointed out, that there may be a generational aspect to this. As a Gen X’er, I see myself required to fit into the world around me. That is, a world where spelling and grammar are at least nominally important. I think you’re espousing a Gen Y philosophy that seeks to change to world to suit your needs. (Yes, I’m aware that you’re technically Gen X, but from what I can tell you identify more with Gen Y.) Thus, from a Gen Y perspective, spelling and grammar should be flexible so as to suit your purposes and if anyone has a problem with it, that only exposes their own prejudices and biases.

    But until the world becomes predominantly Gen Y, the rules for business communication remain inflexible.

  42. Daniel Botelho
    Daniel Botelho says:

    If these typos were to go uncorrected, soon we could have a good part of the population without the ability to spell. I think it’s fundamental to check for these errors if we would like to preserve the English language. Yes, even in a blog!

    A person who keeps reading the misspelled word “beleive” may at one point start using that incorrect version of the word “believe”. I think it has an almost viral effect, especially in these circumstances – such as a blog.

    And to the author, I am 24 years old, and by no means a traditionalist.

  43. Rick
    Rick says:

    The problem when one sees a typo is that it generates an impression – €“ unfair or not – €“ that the writer is sloppy with detail. Even if the piece of writing is well thought out and well written, the typo is the black spot on the white tuxedo. And most of us are preconditioned to look at the negative. As writers, many of us tend to bristle a bit after we write something we believe to be brilliant, only to have someone call us out on a typo or breaking some obscure rule of grammar. I have seen this happen too many times. Unfortunately, it's these seemingly little things that can hurt your credibility. What makes it worse today in the work world is the increased focus employers place on communications skills, so if you have a good resume that contains a typo, you've already cast a negative impression. While typoz happyn ( :-) ), just make sure they don't happen on your resume or cover letter. Don't just proofread by using a spell checker; proofread it yourself and have a trusted friend or family member proofread it too!

  44. John Goodman
    John Goodman says:

    Sorry Penelope, I can’t agree with you on this one.

    I see a similar school of thought in classical music wherein some musicians say it’s okay to play a few wrong notes as long as you express the music with feeling etc. etc. Well, every musician occaisionally plays a wrong or out of tune note, but if s/he plays too many all you hear are the imperfections. Usually the people that champion this school of thought are the people that don’t have the technique to play the music properly in the first place. I don’t think this applies to you as respects spelling, punctuation or grammar, and I understand that you don’t have a copy editor, but a little care should be taken to try and make your blogs as letter perfect as possible.

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