Spelling mistakes, typos and howlers

This morning an article on the BBC website caught my eye: Why Typos and Spelling Mistakes Really Don’t Matter. Author and FT columnist Lucy Kellaway, a journalist with a self-confessed ‘flair for typos’, believes we should not be overly obsessed with these little mistakes that often crop up in writing.

Working in an editorial department in a publishing house, I can’t help but disagree. While I wouldn’t throw a strop over a misspelt word in an email or missing punctuation in a hastily-scribbled note, I think these things matter in a professional capacity. I know the world will keep moving even though the New York Times published a headline with a typo, but such mistakes appear a little sloppy – something that could have been caught by a quick once-over.


I don’t claim to be the world’s best speller (I still refer to my OED when writing ‘manoeuvre’ – the price you pay for borrowing words from the French!) but CVs, professional correspondence, articles, and, of course, published books should be as typo free as possible!

But I do agree with Kellaway here:

‘If human beings have any remaining competitive advantage over the machines, it is not our skill at crossing i’s and dotting t’s. It is our ability to write something that provokes a response – and not just because it contains a howler or a spelling mistake.’

What are your thoughts on typos and spelling mistakes?

Sophie, Editorial Admin.

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