The Cost of Spelling Mistakes

The cost of spelling mistakesWhen you sell face to face your sales pitch is entirely verbal. You can watch the other party for physical clues as to what they’re thinking or whether they are about to buy.

But the world of online marketing relies on the written word.

The quality of the writing on websites therefore has to be high and that means no spelling or grammar errors.

But can a typo really have an effect on sales through your website?

According to a recent article on the BBC website, the answer is yes.

Spelling mistakes cost millions in lost online sales

Now if that sounds like scaremongering to you just listen to this.

According to Charles Duncombe (an online entrepreneur) when a spelling mistake was identified on the website, the revenue from the site was twice as high once the error had been corrected.

If you multiply that one example across all internet retail you could be looking at millions of pounds of business being in jeopardy through spelling or grammatical errors.

The importance of proofreading

No one is perfect and we all make mistakes from time to time but locating those errors before your copy is published is imperative.

The process of proofreading is a laborious one. Quite often you can read through a piece of copy 3 or 4 times and still find errors that you passed by earlier.

And we’re not just talking about spelling mistakes that your spell checker will pick up. There are instances where you’ll spell a word correctly but it is the incorrect word for the sentence. Typical examples of this are using ‘you’ instead of ‘your’ or the wrong which, there and here.

The ideal process is for one person to write the copy and then having it proofed by a couple of other people.

Trying to proof your own copy is possible but you must ensure you leave plenty of time between the writing and checking process. The main problem is you become ‘blind’ to what you’ve written. In your head you know what you wanted to say so it’s easy to insert words that aren’t there.

Perfect copywriting

As a professional copywriter I would love to say I never make mistakes.

I do.

That’s not an issue though because I check and re-check every piece of work to make sure, when it’s passed to my client, it is error free.

Usually my trusty dictionary is sat beside me on my desk so if I am unsure of the spelling of a word I can look it up.

Remember making mistakes isn’t a bad thing – not taking the time to read through your work and correct them is.

Over to you

How do you feel about proofreading?

Do you have any unusual proofing tactics?

Perhaps you’ve seen a piece of copy recently that had a blaring mistake in it – how did it make you feel? Did it stop you from making a purchase?

Please leave a comment below and share your opinions.


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#1 Julie Turner on 08.29.11 at 12:13 pm

If you’ve read and edited something to death, try proofing it backwards. Start with the last word and go back all the way to the first.

#2 That's News on 08.29.11 at 2:12 pm

The very same BBC who copied and pasted a West Midlands Police press release without noticing a very major spelling mistake in the release? Yes, the very same BBC! Glass houses, stones, etc…

#3 Alan on 08.30.11 at 2:54 am

Nice article and great advice!

Without doubt, proofing your work is vital. Before I do my final proof readings I use two tools, both free, to check spelling and grammar.

The first is and the other site is However, both sites are not perfect. They often will flag something as a spelling or grammar error and they are wrong. So, do not just correct as they suggest, think about their corrections and you will find it necessary to ignore some of them.

I find that even after using these tools I may have missed something as simple as a missing word or a misspelled word that makes sense to these programs. I used to proof onscreen, but find that proofing a printed copy works best for me. It gives me a few moments to not be looking at the copy before I proof it.

#4 Copywriter Johannesburg on 09.06.11 at 12:10 pm

I once made a typo on a billboard, spelling bulrushes with two l’s. BIG 72 sheeter mistake! Won’t do that again!

#5 admin on 09.08.11 at 1:04 pm

Ouch! Thanks for sharing that with us 🙂

#6 Copywriter | English Language Reference on 09.09.11 at 7:23 am

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#7 Christine on 09.14.11 at 9:56 am

Interesting post – and timing! I’ve just launched an online proofreading/editing service ( aimed specifically at this sector of the market – articles, blog posts, websites etc. Would love to hear people’s comments on whether this is a service they would use.

#8 Anonymous on 02.12.13 at 5:03 pm

There was some nice followup research that dives deeper than the original BBC article. It explains just what kind of impact certain website problems can have on readers (and not limited to spelling and grammar!).


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