As writers, we spend countless hours crafting and refining our work to perfection. We labor over word choices, sentence structure, and the perfect flow.
Despite our best efforts—even after a pass through Grammarly—typos slip through. We tend to spot them in other people’s projects, even if we miss them in our own.
How do you react when you spot a typo in someone else’s writing? Do you assume they’re unprofessional and lose faith in them?
Or do you extend grace and understand that mistakes happen?
One time I spoke with a professional in the creative space who said if she sees a typo, it’s an automatic unsubscribe.
“Seriously?” I exclaimed. “You don’t even give them three strikes?”
“No, that’s it. I unsubscribe on the spot.”
I strive toward excellence and aim for perfect prose, but if I’m in a hurry or make a last-minute change, I miss details. I’m sure you’ve noticed them in blog posts and emails.
“Well,” I told her, “I suppose you aren’t on my list, because I send out notes with errors sometimes.”
She shrugged. That’s her rule and she stands by it.
Part of me respected the high standard she set.
The other part of me craved grace for my shortcomings.
Typos Are Human
As I said, even the most meticulous writers miss typos from time to time. In my rush to click “publish,” I’ll skip a step in the writing and editing process.
For example, I try to allow time to run my emails and blog posts through Grammarly. Then I look at the clock and realize I’m out of time, and I trust my eye to catch any issues.
Sure enough: those are the days a typo slips through.
As a writer striving to produce polished writing, I need to establish a process that slows me down long enough to follow through.
As a reader spotting typos in other people’s work, I hope to offer the same grace I long for from others who spot my mistakes.
One of my online friends is a proofreader, and her discerning eye caught errors on my Everything page. Instead of instantly unsubscribing and unfollowing me, she reached out with a gentle tone and kindly listed each one—it was a gift! She understood that typos are human. Better yet, she offered her expertise to make my work stronger.
Consider the Context
When it comes to typos, context matters. Typos in a casual email or social media post aren’t as concerning as typos in a published article or book.
And please don’t judge my writing ability when we’re texting. Between autocorrect and fat fingers, my messages are a mess!
One Last Look
Writing to family and friends is one thing; writing for the public is another. We can take steps to catch embarrassing blips before they’re released to the world wide web.
Proofreading is crucial to the writing process and ensures polished work.
The first place to notice issues is when you’re writing. Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and Google Docs all track grammar and spelling issues with squiggly lines.
After revisiting what they’ve marked and making any changes, you can run your final draft through a program like:
Then read it aloud. Vocalizing each word will catch problems that our mind skips over when reading silently.
For high-stakes projects—queries, pitches, book proposals, manuscripts—consider hiring a human editor and proofreader.
Practice Gracious Typo Spotting
Not every project warrants that much attention. But relying on self-editing means some of our work will miss a letter, word, or phrase. We’ll use “it’s” where we should have used “its” or “your” instead of “you’re.”
Unless you’re asked to edit or proofread someone’s work, overlook their misspellings or misplaced modifiers. Feel pleased you recognized the error—after all, it means you’re developing an editor’s eye and ear. But when we approach typos with grace, we connect with other writers as human beings.
Maybe—maybe—if we know the person well, we can mention that we saw a minor error and want their work to shine. That way, they know we value the person behind the writing, not just the words on the page.
That’s how I felt when my online friend reached out. The way she emailed me, I could tell she wasn’t scolding or shaming me—she was supporting me.
We can offer ourselves grace, as well, when we realize we sent out our writing with a glaring mistake. Don’t beat yourself up or see yourself as a failure.
You’re an active writer, daring to share your work with the world.
The only way to avoid public typos altogether is to never click “publish.”
Let’s strive for clean, quality prose while extending grace to others—and ourselves—when an error slips through.
Instead of seeing it as a black mark on their record, view it as a reminder that a real person sits on the other side of the screen. Yes, that fallible writer is a real human being, writing her heart out.
- Tips on Self-Editing from The Artful Edit
- The Paralysis of Perfectionism
- How Good Does My Writing Need to Be Online?
- Grammar Matters: Why Concern Ourselves with Commas?
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