Typos Happen: Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Posted March 6, 2014 by Amanda Shofner in Editing / 2 Comments


The truth no one wants to acknowledge is that typos happen. They just do. And no amount of poring feverishly over your writing can guarantee a typo-free manuscript, email, or article.

Life isn’t perfect; neither is your writing.

And what’s worse: more eyes on your writing doesn’t automatically mean you and your team will catch every typo. Having multiple people edit increases your chances of catching typos, but it doesn’t eliminate their existence.

Whomp, whomp.

Stop expecting perfection from your writing

You have two choices when you spot a typo (or when an awesome reader alerts you to their presence).

1. You can freak out, blame yourself or your editors, apologize profusely, and obsess over how people are going to think you’re a terrible person because you made a typo.

And yeah, ‘fess up. That’s usually your knee-jerk reaction. Or…

2. You can correct the typo or, if it’s not possible to fix, accept its existence and decide if you can take additional steps the next time to avoid the problem.

I’m going to recommend you choose the latter. Obviously. As frustrating as it is to know you have a typo, typos happen. You don’t have to beat yourself up about it.

Your brain works in amazing ways

Have you ever wondered how typos can sneak through all those people? Even traditionally published books can have the occasional typo and it’s not because everyone involved in the editing process was lazy.

It’s because your brain sees what it expects to see, not what’s there. That’s how you miss typos and how your readers are unable see your typos until you point them out.

But that’s why editing tactics like printing off your writing, reading it out loud, and giving it time are so important to the editing process. The more you can trick your brain to read what’s there—not what it expects to see—the more likely you are to catch those pesky typos.

Stop listening to your insecurities: typos aren’t a sign of your failings. Fix them, move on, and be thankful you caught them when you did. You’ve got more writing to do.

Even the best writers are prone to typos. No one is exempt, not even your favorite editors. After I published Blog Events, I detailed the editing process I went through, including the number of people who helped me edit. Many eyes had given attention to those words. And still, an eagle-eyed reader spotted a missing word months later.

But I won’t let it stop me or get me down—and I certainly won’t get annoyed at people who point out my typos. Wouldn’t you want to know? Perfection is impossible. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to improve and be the best we can be.

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2 responses to “Typos Happen: Don’t Beat Yourself Up

  1. This right here is one of the most difficult parts of being an editor, in my opinion. Obviously I proofread my blog posts, but I still miss things, and I feel like it reflects badly on me as a professional if any typos sneak through. And don’t even get me started on how long it takes to send one stinking e-mail because I need to make sure everything is right first.

    • I agree. I always try to stress that not everyone is perfect—even editors—but it’s frustrating to see a typo slip through. Perhaps because we’re held to a higher standard (whether it’s us doing the holding or others, I’m not sure) than everyone else.

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