Sh!t Happens: Typos are a normal part of digital life (NOT a personal failing)

Darci @ Sweet Tooth Creative
4 min readSep 14, 2023

Ever since I saw it, I can’t stop thinking about the responses to this poll on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn poll from Brigette Hyacinth asking how many spelling mistakes are acceptable on a resume? 77% responded zero, 11% responded one, and 6% responded two and three.
LinkedIn Poll from Brigette Hyacinth: How many spelling mistakes are acceptable on a resume?

And, while I can’t say I’m surprised by the results (because ableism is an inherent part of LinkedIn’s culture), it really made me zero in on one thing I wish more people realized about writing:

Typos are NOT an indication of carelessness!

In fact, typos often happen when your brain is engaged in higher-level thinking. If it’s focused on getting your message across, it’s not worrying about basic mechanics like spelling.

Even after your draft is complete and you’ve fully shifted into editing mode, proofreading your own work is still notoriously challenging. Your brain already knows the destination, so it thinks it’s doing you a favor by skipping stuff it’s already seen.

You can try different hacks to fool it, like switching fonts or reading aloud, but occasionally, mistakes will get missed.

And that’s okay! People aren’t machines. Holding them to arbitrary standards of perfection typically serves the power systems they’re stuck inside (usually to the detriment of the people themselves).

Perfectionism is Overrated…and Oppressive

Just like ‘proper’ grammar and the rules of professionalism, the idea that typos (or lack thereof) accurately measure an individual’s abilities is rooted in oppression (racism, ableism, classism — take your pick), not objective reality.

Mock tweet from Darci at Sweet Tooth Creative reads: “Typos are a normal part of digital life — NOT a personal failing. Don’t let ableism and white supremacy tell you otherwise.
Tweet from Darci @ Sweet Tooth Creative

One of the first things they teach you in Linguistics 101 is that a language-in-use is always evolving. Sure, a certain variety of it (usually the one associated with government and commerce) may be more standardized and even considered by the majority to be the linguistic baseline.

But this “standard language” never achieves actual permanency. And, if the standards themselves can change, it seems a bit silly to assign moral weight to variations found in everyday use.

Proofreading My Own Work (as a Professional Copywriter)

In a perfect world, we’d all have a proofreader to turn to before hitting publish. And while I believe bigger brands and agencies should adequately staff their creative teams so proofreading can be built into their processes, I also know that the realities of running a small business don’t always allow for such things.

My own business, Sweet Tooth Creative, is a one-woman show. I intend to keep it that way in the future, too. That doesn’t mean I won’t hire contractors for certain projects or services. But at no point in the past five years have I had any desire to manage a team or grow STC into a corporation. I could certainly be wrong, but I don’t see that changing in the next five, either.

So it’s safe to assume that if you see something published under Sweet Tooth Creative’s brand, I wrote it. And proofed it. For better or for worse!

With that in mind, here’s how I approach typos in my own content:

  1. First, I refuse to panic. I do my best to nip any self-flagellation in the bud, often by reminding myself that perfectionism isn’t designed to serve me.
  2. Then, I ask myself if the error obscured or misconstrued the meaning of what I wrote. If the answer is yes, I consider whether I need to address it publicly. This could look like adding a correction notice to the original piece (like in the case of a blog post) or addressing it separately (like in a new social post).
  3. I also consider the shelf life of the copy or content containing the mistake. Is traffic still being driven to it (website copy, blog posts, opt-ins, etc.) or is it past its prime (social posts, old offers, etc.)? If the typo is somewhere that still gets decent traffic, I correct it. If not, I leave it alone (even if I’m itching to fix it) because my time is valuable, and I could use it for better things.
Facebook post from The City of Muskogee reading “Night Poops is back. Come handle your business and show us your form on the MLK Center basketball court.” Below it a comment from the same page reads “Dear god. Night Hoops. Please don’t poop ont he court. We will end this event.”
Added Bonus: Sometimes typos can be great for driving engagement on social media!

When It Happens to You

So, if you discover (or someone points out) a typo in your marketing, don’t stress about it!

If the typo caused confusion or is somewhere that’s still seeing steady traffic, go ahead and address it. If it’s in a piece of inactive or outdated content, just let it go.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up! It happens to everybody.

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Darci @ Sweet Tooth Creative

🍭 Copywriter & Brand Voice Strategist 🍭 Candy-fueled commentary on writing, brand strategy, & small business ownership