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WGC_TyposHappenThanks to so-called “sideways” surfing, the number of visitors who enter a website through the home page is declining. What does that mean for you?

First, make sure every page of your website contains your contact information. Second? Content is king. With the upswing in sharing as the means by which people visit your site, posting new and high-quality (read: stuff people will want to share) content is now more important than ever. So you better be sure to watch out for typos; they can seriously undermine your message and credibility. [See my June Attorney at Work Friday Five Trending article for more suggestions about what you can do to enhance content-driven traffic.]

And let’s face it: Typos happen. We’re often tired, in a hurry, or distracted. This leads to a disconnect between what our brains intend to type and what our fingers actually input. Typos don’t mean you’re stupid, they mean you’re human. You just need to plan for the fact that your brain sees what it expects to see—and that spell-checkers only check for spelling, not if you accidentally used the wrong word.

To help you catch such errors, I’ve compiled a list of common typo types I see while proofing copy. They include:

Missing letters. It’s very easy to miss the skinny little “l” in “public,” which can be especially embarrassing if you’re a PR firm that accidentally tells the world you provide “pubic relations.” Other errors of this type include typing “fried” instead of “friend,” “you” instead of “your,” or “run” instead of “ruin.”

Missing words. This error often happens because of Word’s setting to automatically select the entire word when editing (you can change this in the options). So if you’re a little wild with the mouse, you can accidentally cut too many words, rendering your sentence incomprehensible. Some writers also commonly forget the articles “a,” “an,” and “the,” or the function word “to.”

Transposed letters. When you’re “in the zone” and speed-typing away, it’s easy to transpose letters and turn “martial” into “marital” or vice versa. Other easy-to-do transposing errors that spell-check won’t catch include use/sue, fried/fired, and weird/wired.

Added letters. Sometimes you accidentally type the wrong word by adding letters (or AutoCorrect does it for you). With the addition of one measly letter, you can change “tough” into “though,” “though” into either “through” or “thought,” and “through” into “thorough.” Also watch out for words that begin and end the same, such as using “investing” when you meant “investigating” or even “ingesting.”

Wrong letter. Fast typing can also lead to hitting the wrong letter—especially when the keys are located next to each other on the keyboard, like i/o and m/n. This means you might type “live” instead of “love” or “hem” instead of “hen.” This type of error can be quite entertaining, however, such as when a Chinese restaurant means to list Hunan Beef as an entrée, but the menu says “human” beef and you can hear Charlton Heston screaming “Soylent Green is people!” in your head. (Or is that just me?)

Wrong word. Another English-is-a-crazy-language error occurs when you accidentally use the wrong word because it sounds the same, such as “affect” or “effect” and “insure,” “ensure” and even “assure.” These so-called homophones are common (see a nice list here), but there is also a slew of words that sound so similar that they’re easy to mix up, such as presents/presence, dastard/bastard, accept/except, and consort/concert. Also beware of using the verb when you wanted the noun, such as using “inventing” when you meant “invention.”

Old usages. Language changes and adapts over time, yet people often hang onto old usages—or they refuse to believe that the change is correct, instead insisting that everyone else is wrong. Old usages—such as hyphenating “on-line,” putting an “an” in front of “historic,” using two spaces after a sentence, and that extra “ta” in “preventative”—may convey that you’re out of touch with reality, stuck in the past, or too arrogant to change. None of which is the message you want to send.

Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments.

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