Tips to catch typos

typos meme

Some of my most embarrassing moments have happened with typos. I’ve been writing professionally since college graduation. I won’t mention exactly how many years that is. But, it’s plenty. Plenty of time to make a few mistakes.

Here’s a rundown of three embarrassing typos:


SwimSwam parent tips. I left out a number on my tips and boy did I hear about it!

My process began with a small idea. Then I’d write a rough sloppy draft and hone it down into something tight and simple.  Along the way I cut out one tip that didn’t seem to fit. But, the story didn’t automatically renumber itself. Making a mistake like that on a busy forum like SwimSwam is decidedly embarrassing.

You can read that story here. 12 Parent Tips on How to Behave at Practice.

On the bright side, I got a RT by Natalie Coughlin. I was super excited about that, so the story still worked even if it was not perfect.

Natalie Coughlin
Natalie Coughlin


My second worst typo was in the 80s. I worked for a PR and advertising firm and I wrote eight newsletters a month, plus three or four press releases daily. It was a busy, intense job. I was in charge of a fundraiser for abused women which was held at a local country club. In my press release that ran just about everywhere — I mistakenly put in my own phone number instead of the club’s to RSVP! There was no taking that one back. I lived through it by hooking up an answering machine.

oops key on computer

I felt humiliated though, when my co-workers relentlessly teased me.


My all-time worst typo was when I had my own PR and advertising business. I had some super-duper clients including the hospital’s cancer center and a local branch of a major Wall Street firm. When the boss at the Wall Street branch was promoted to NYC to corporate headquarters, he still used me for all of his work. I was SO excited! Then I made a typo on a Power Point presentation. It was on the new logo he had me create for the Western Region of the United States of America. Ugh.

He was so angry with me, because I made him look bad. I’ll never forgive myself for that one.

street sign painted typo

The thing with typos is your brain can trick you into seeing what you intended to be there.

My tips to catch typos:

1. Read the piece from the bottom, sentence by sentence.

2. Read it out loud.

3. Put it away for a few days to get a fresh view.

4. Have other people proofread for you.

5. Don’t forget to proofread the title and headers. Numbers, too.

Do you have any tips to catch typos to add to my list? What typos have you made that you wish you could take back?

15 thoughts on “Tips to catch typos

  1. OMG these are great tips. Thanks for telling us about your errors. I’ve made plenty too. I write an email newsletter for my job and every month I send a draft out to department heads, thinking it’s error-free. (So many links and dates, it’s mind-numbing.) Someone always finds something. I’m so grateful for that. It’s very humbling too. Having another set of eyes is a big help.

    • When I worked for a PR AD agency, every employee had to proofread every one else’s work. We had a little slip of paper that we had to initial. Your newsletter sounds like a lot of work!

  2. It’s funny how we can recall so quickly our flubs. Most of my comms friends are that way … I think it shows disciplined and caring most writers and editors are! I cringe at my biggest mistakes. Most were silly and in the heat of the moment – which makes them even more frustrating. The challenge with corp comms is we tend to see pieces so often, in such a short period of time. We trick our brain. We’re going to go back and change twelve to eleven, but we get pulled away. My biggest flaw is the sin of omission- I read a word that isn’t there in the text. My brilliantly written piece automatically looks like it’s been written by a third grader. Ugh!

      • And one more thing, I would’ve been really bothered by the exec who got upset and angry about the pwpt mistake. Yes, we all want perfection, and, yes, the work had his name on it, but you had been there for him previously. (It sounded like a long time.) You weren’t trying to sabotage him. I think the best leaders recognize the humanity in every situation. Mistakes happen. Treat people with respect, admit the error, and move on. Plus, I suspect he had a chance to review the work. Why didn’t he notice in advance. I’m being overly defensive for you, but I know how much work goes into making leaders look good. It takes a team. I hope the relationship got better from that point on. Thanks for sharing.

      • Thank you for the positive comment and support. Yes, he reviewed the project and signed off on it. I never worked for him after that time, but we stayed friends.

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