Ah, Halloween. It’s that brief autumnal moment when we all have a chance to let loose before the end-of-the-year responsibilities fully kick in. We look forward to darkly decorating our houses, playing spooky soundtracks, and being safely scared by monster movie marathons and high school haunted houses. But you know what we find REALLY frightening? It’s the shocking display of year-round grammar and spelling mistakes that transform even the most beautifully crafted content into a hideous beast. These mistakes may seem relatively harmless, but beware! Your hard-earned reputation and brand image could sustain injury from these insidious imps.
Check for Boogiemen Behind the Door
Companies naturally focus on their main website copy, but often forget to double-check the back corners where other important online content lives. Form validation messages, thank-you confirmation screens, banner ads, and email subject lines are common places overlooked during copy review. Even though these items may not be prominent or even always visible, at some point—assuming your site is functioning correctly—your visitors will see this copy. Make sure you look behind all the digital “doors” in your site to prevent any monstrous typos from jumping out at your visitors.
Avoid The Big Bad Wolves
Much as our culture is drawn to a couple of classic creatures, we seem to gravitate toward certain grammar monsters. Here’s how to take down the two biggest, baddest errors we’re haunted by most frequently (and for even more, read “15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly“).
It’s / Its
“It’s” is a contraction (shortcut) for “it is” or “it has,” while “its” is a possessive pronoun showing ownership of something. Here’s how to stake this mistake: Try reading your sentence out loud with “it is” to see if your wording makes sense. If it does, use “it’s.” If it doesn’t, use “its.”
When the sun goes down, it’s time for the vampire to rise from its coffin.
When the sun goes down, it is (correct! use it’s) time for the vampire to rise from it is (wrong! use its) coffin.
You’re / Your
It works just like “it’s” and “its.” “You’re” is a contraction for “you are” while “your” is a possessive pronoun. Use this silver bullet: Try reading your sentence out loud with “you are” to see if your wording makes sense. If it does, use “you’re.” If it doesn’t, use “your.”
You’re afraid of the full moon because your father is a werewolf.
You are (correct! use you’re) afraid of the full moon because you are (wrong! use your) father is a werewolf.
Dispel Evil Spirits
No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes at times. But there’s no need to make it any easier for evil typos to cross over into your copy. First, create a company house style guide in which you list the common terms, names, and spellings used in your business; see The Morning News’ style guide for one great example. Second, hire an experienced copywriter. She or he will be able to hone your content into a sharp, accurate message that can keep your visitors from fleeing in frightened confusion. Finally, consider hiring a proofreader to provide a final line of defense against the insidious errors that may have slipped past.
What are some of the most frightening grammar and spelling mistakes you’ve seen? Send them to TypoHunter on Twitter!
nice post kari. no one is perfect, even more so in the day of “smart” type. But seeing these errors out there often make me giggle. Thanks for pointing them out and some rules behind them.
I’m going to do my best to “Drink Responsibility” this weekend. 🙂