I’ve found that my spelling errors and errant typos have gotten increasingly worse over the years. Is it because most platforms have spellcheck and alert me to my mistakes, thus making me lazy? I hope it’s the technology and not my waning memory.
Do you find yourself misspelling words and making silly typos? If you do, you know how it feels to see them on the screen after you’ve published your posts or articles for the whole world to see. It might be cause for you to stop writing all together. Don’t let your mistakes get to you. You’re not going to be judged as harshly as you think.
A poll I conducted on LinkedIn surprisingly resulted in a mere 12% of voters who are intolerant of spelling errors and typos. The remaining 88% will allow a few or more mistakes in people’s writing. In fact, 55% of voters answered yes to, “Hey, everyone is human,” meaning that more than three is acceptable.
For the majority of voters who don’t expect perfection might imply that content is the key. A few or more mistakes can be overlooked. Another message I derived from the poll is that it depends on where the mistakes are made. For example, resumes and cover letters must be devoid of spelling errors and typos.
Not on resumes and LinkedIn profiles
Good resume writers are careful to deliver flawless products to their clients. Case in point, Erin Kennedy writes: “Well, as a writer I am probably the hardest on myself–but I’m hard on my staff as well. Our job is to write for other people so mistakes aren’t an option. In other jobs, it may not be as important.”
TIINA JARVET PEREIRA concurs: “It’s important to have a resume that looks clear and is without typos. In my job as a Headhunter I would ask the candidate to correct the typos before passing the resume to the Hiring Manager. It gives a better first impression.”
The strongest argument comes from Wendy Schoen, who writes: “I believe that your resume reflects your character. If you do not take the time to make sure that the product (the temporary stand-in for YOU) is fantastic, what am I, the hiring entity to think of the “real” you? Of course, in the long run it does depend somewhat on the industry, but my feelings as a recruiter transcend the industry.
“Take that extra moment and have someone else proof your product before unleashing it on the world…
“BTW, it isn’t just misspellings. It is also the improper use of “s” and “‘s” after numbers on a resume that turn me off.”
And for those who write their own resumes, they should carefully proofread them. In fact, job candidates should have others review their resumes and cover letters. We know that once we miss a mistake two or three times, forget about noticing them. But others will.
Okay in articles and posts?
My insecurities began to arise as I re-read some of my articles and noticed said mistakes. Grammar isn’t as much of a problem, but spelling and punctuation errors spring up like dandelions; no doubt a matter of not proofreading or having someone do it for me before sending my content live.
Erica Reckamp assuages my insecurities, writing: “Ideally, if it’s public-facing or client-facing, our content would be subjected to another round of edits, but posts/blogs are understood to be fairly free-form and it is my impression people would rather have timely, raw content than ‘airbrushed’ content.” (Read the rest of her comment below.)
You might think this is a simple topic, perhaps one that only English teachers would appreciate. Au contraire. At this point in the poll–with four days left–8,011 people have voted and 444 of them have commented.
Let’s not forget grammar
You can be the best speller in the world, but if your grammar sucks, you’ll lose your audience very quickly. Verb tense, punctuation, point of view, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, propositions, conjunctions; am I leaving something out? There’s just too much to remember.
Victoria Ipri didn’t forget grammar: “I fall somewhere between the 1st and 2nd choices. It’s not only spelling that is a problem, it’s grammar too. I’m not the grammar police, but do feel when the writing is for a professional or business document (from resumes to blogs), those who lack spelling or grammar skills should consider tapping a proofreader. (By the way, I own a shirt that says ‘I’m silently correcting your grammar.’) 😨“
The fact is that sucky grammar can be more of a turnoff than poor spelling and typos. I’ve read books that contained mistakes but were so compelling that I glossed over spelling errors and typos. Thanks for bringing this up, Victoria.
There were so many excellent comments. Let’s look at some of the standout ones.
Chris Hogg: “You say, ‘I wonder if this makes me less credible as a writer.’
“I don’t think it does, but it does indicate that you need to take more time before hitting the send key.
“Why not write an article, post, resume, whatever, and let it sit for a day or two while working on the next one, and build up a small backlog that you can proof before rushing to publication.
“Also, there is a ‘rule’ in writing/publishing that once a gremlin gets into our stuff, it’s almost impossible to get it (or them) out. This is why editors and proofreaders have jobs, because they can see what we cannot.”
Ed Han (He/Him): “I competed in spelling bees and was an English major.
“For me it depends on the medium, *if it’s a medium that doesn’t have built-in spell check*. Most modern web browsers do, as does every major mobile phone. So ignoring the red squiggly line on those platforms is potentially problematic to me.
“Otherwise? We’re all human, and being a jerk about this stuff–or really any stuff–isn’t my idea of good networking.“
🔹 Angela Watts 🔹: “It really depends on the role for me.
“If the person will be involved in developing corporate communications, I’m going to need to see a pattern of mostly flawless writing. If the individual is C-level and will be communicating directly with top tier partners, investors or customers then there is a need for error-less writing (which may be achieved by having others proofread it first). If accuracy is a critical element of a role (like in an Accountant position), typos could indicate deficiency in this skill.
“Presentation matters, but perfection does not. We should strive to write well and give ourselves (and others) grace when we make mistakes.”
Erica Reckamp: “Communication is the goal and content outweighs polish, in my opinion. If the errors obfuscate meaning (alternate word or wrong URL) or perpetuate more errors (candidate scripts with errors), then it’s more of a concern. If they’re little glitches, most readers will gloss right over them.
“Ideally, if it’s public-facing or client-facing, our content would be subjected to another round of edits, but posts/blogs are understood to be fairly free-form and it is my impression people would rather have timely, raw content than ‘airbrushed’ content.
“As a former editor, I’ve had my fair share of contacts apologize profusely for a typo. They assume we’re out for blood, but even in books released through major publishing houses, you can find 4 errors per page if you know the style sheet. We get it the best we can in time for release, so the ideas shine through! Then you just have to let it go until the next round of edits”!
Kevin D. Turner: “Passion, Caring and Knowledge Sharing to me Bob is the most important components of writing that I’ll read. You always deliver all of that. A bit of spelling or grammar issue I will forgive to get to the right valued message, especially in this global world. That being said I write and can’t read between my own mistakes, too hot and too close to the subject, so I’ve started to use a few tools to double check before posting.”
MARY FAIN BRANDT: “As someone who has dyslexia, I often overlook spelling errors, even though I know how to spell.
“Just the other day, I was proofreading an social post, which I had read 3 times and I caught another typo.
“What’s worse is that when I was younger, I had dyslexia of the mouth, I would change the order of words or letters and not realize it. one time I asked my mom if we could get fable mudge cake mix…3 times in a row.”
Paula Christensen: “I’m surprised by the 12% (so far) one error and done votes. I suspect with the current low unemployment rate and hiring difficulties that many more errors are being accepted. My personal view- everyone makes mistakes so a few less egregious errors are okay, more than three may signify the candidate didn’t take the time to present professionally.”