I have seen our industry come a long way in the past 20 years: the invention/implementation of the Internet is by far the greatest shift in the way we work. But I can remember a time when typesetting was a profession, leading had to do with actual lead numbers, and stock photography was literally stock hard-copy photos. Buying a font was a huge investment, and a simple color change was anything but (simple).
Now, whatever we want to do in the world of advertising and graphic design is literally at our fingertips. All the tools we need to make our lives easier are just a click away, and sometimes not even – Microsoft Word for example automatically checks spelling and grammar as you type. Could it get any easier?
“Talbe” gets a nice little squiggly red line underneath of it, and you realize, whoops, I meant to type “Table.” So how is it, when our world is basically spelled out before us, there are so many typos in published media? If I had a dollar for every misspelling or mistake I’ve seen in online articles, blogs, or even high profile publications, I’d have at least $97.50 from last month alone.
I’m not a world-class copywriter by any means; I’m a creative director – but I still know what spell-check is! Whenever I’m creating a piece and placing copy, regardless of whether I wrote it or not, I still review it to ensure everything is spelled correctly, punctuation is accurate, and the words are what I intend them to be (“form” instead of “from,” etc.). Below are some steps I recommend everyone take a look at to ensure typo-free work!
Five Steps for Minimizing Typos
Run Spell Check
Easy right? Word does it automatically, and you can even manually request a spell check, which usually includes a complementary word count. Not working in Word? Most designers aren’t – but that still doesn’t get you out of running a spell check. Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, and the ever popular (?) Quark Xpress have spell check functions.
You should always proof any work that come across your screen. Read what you’re dealing with. Have you read it once or twice and still can’t find any mistakes? Try altering the formatting: two columns of text vs. one for example. This will force you to look at your content in an all-new perspective, and cause you to carefully reread it again.
When it doubt, sound it out – right? Try reading your content out loud. You’re more apt to notice an inconsistency or typo if you’re hearing yourself say it. Even at a soft whisper, you are more likely to catch that glaring grammar no-no or pesky spelling snafu than if you just read it in your head.
Fact: slow and steady wins the race. It worked for the Hare, and it works in advertising and marketing. Yes, we live in a world of ever-closer deadlines, driven by the “this needs to happen now or else,” mentality, but you can still have a well thought out message crafted by taking your time. Slow down, think about what you’re saying or reading, and communicate it clearly. Carefully read each word (out loud), and take the time to review it not just once, but three times! You’ll have less edits and save more time in the long run by slowing down and thinking it through from the start.
Did you write the content you’re reviewing? No? What do you do when you find a mistake? Fix it yourself? Wrong! Call that person out – make them fix it from square one. You’re not doing this to be a jerk; you’re holding someone accountable for their work: we call that responsibility. Just as you are asking they give you accurate material, the next person to receive the project expects the same from you in return. Hold yourself, and others, accountable for what is being done to ensure the highest quality of work.
To err is human, I get that; we all make mistakes. To mix up “loose” and “lose” once in a while – sure, it happens. But how on earth, through all the tools at our clicking disposal, we still have flat-out misspelled words in published materials is beyond me. Do the work, take the extra steps, slow down, and own what you make. Your name is on it; make it for all the
write right reasons.