Poor spelling pushes you down the search rankings
In today’s online world, typos sometimes come with a hefty price tag. A BBC report suggested that a single spelling mistake on an e-commerce website can harm credibility so much that online revenues are cut in half.
If that doesn’t convince you, consider that search engines look for strings of characters in sequence so if your website contains misspellings, it is unlikely to rank highly in search results.
Don’t rely on your computer spellcheck
A news item in The Times this week claimed books increasingly contain spelling mistakes according to the chair of a judging panel for an annual literary prize. Graham Sharpe suggested the problem could be attributed to the loss of “much-respected editors” from publishing houses and said that misspellings of straightforward words were “a crime against books”.
Much of the blame for this lies in the growth of digital technology, which has disrupted both the economics and traditional processes that underpin book publishing. Publishers traditionally employed scores of full-time copy editors and proofreaders to filter out an author’s misteaks (oops, mistakes). But with ever tighter margins, such luxuries are no more.
According to an editor at one major publishing house, there is also pressure to publish more books more quickly than ever, which means many publishers will skip steps, allowing errors to slip through. Furthermore, technological advances have made the process more flexible but also, some would argue, more lax. The New York Times columnist Virginia Heffernan explains in an article that whereas before there were clearly-defined stages in book publishing, now authors will often email in “one last correction”, which results in multiple, ever-changing versions of the text that inevitably leads to typos.
“But what about spellcheck?” you may ask. The problem is most spellcheck functions don’t check spellings in context so will not flag an incorrect spelling – brake instead of break, for instance – if it is actually a real word.
If you can’t spell, find someone who can!
For some of us (and I immodestly include myself here) spelling comes naturally. I don’t need a red squiggly line to tell me I’ve mistyped something in haste – it jumps out at me because it just looks plain wrong. If you’re one of those unfortunate people for whom correct spelling does not come easily, ask a member of your team – or better still, a professional like me – to cast their eyes over your work before sending it out into the big wide world.
 ‘The Price of Typos’, Virginia Heffernan, The New York Times 17.7.11