DIY Tip #3: Make Your Typos Look Intentional

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
– i thank You God for most this amazing (1950)
Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.21.41 AM

Even that most venerable of publishing institutions, The New York Times, has succumbed to a lack of proofreading in the Internet age. In 2013, they had a headline that made the headlines (see it here). There are entire websites devoted to unfortunate autocorrections by smartphones. Of course, Jay Leno was famous for his regular segment called Headlines in which he showcased hilarious miscues in printed media. Studies have been done on the negative effects typos have on the perception of the author (check one out here).

Although e e cummings is best known for playing with spacing, punctuation and casing, he published most of his work using standard formats. Unless you’re a nationally-treasured poet who is experimenting with the dynamics of language, it’s usually best to use traditional spelling and punctuation (notice that I’m not saying “correct”, which is often a matter of opinion), particularly if you are using your blog for marketing purposes. Seek out the errant obvious typo. If you’re not good at catching these, ask a friend. Don’t rely on spellcheck. Spelling and grammar checkers often don’t catch the difference between “here” and “hear” or “your” and “you’re”, for example.

Years ago, I owned a small computer consulting firm. I had a very well-educated and experienced programmer working for me who seemed to have a blind spot around spelling. One day I caught sight of a memo he was about to send to a client. It was riddled with misspellings. When I pointed them out, he exclaimed, “But I ran spellcheck!” I asked, “Did you read it!?” Another time, I went to a job site to complete some work he had started. When I launched the application, a beautiful graphic emerged with the words “Deleloped by…” embedded in a revolving image. We were thisclose to looking cool!

Of course, there is much to be said for cultivating a personal style. Recently Melinda Black posted a personal memoir on her business site, Organic Food Price Quotes, about her love for running (Some Tips & Other Stuff I’ve Learned From Running Marathons….Part 1). She intentionally used a lower case “i” to refer to herself and made liberal use of four periods (“….”) to separate her thoughts. Normally, I would find this kind of hokey, but in this case I thought it was rather endearing, speaking in her own voice. So did 1,365 other people who checked it out the day after she posted it!

Also, be careful of using text-inspired acronyms and abbreviations like LOL, BTW, and u (for “you”). These have a tendency to make the author seem immature and unable to craft a traditional sentence. These are best saved for when you’re quoting someone’s text message or if the topic at hand is specifically about text messaging (or Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

Anyway, I think you get the point. Let creativity reign, but just make sure it all looks like Pee Wee Herman’s famous line, “I meant to do that.” If you’d like someone to put some eyes on your work to see if it looks intentional, feel free to contact me. I’ll be happy to give you some feedback.

2 thoughts on “DIY Tip #3: Make Your Typos Look Intentional

  1. Great tips, and I can personally relate to the section about text-inspired acronyms. It just seems very inappropriate when my companys 50 year old Business Development Manager consequently uses u (for “you”), when we communicate on Skype chat 🙂

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