Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Why Spelling Errors Affect Your Business (and How to Avoid Making Them)

Have you ever gone to a website to browse their products or read a business blog and found nothing but spelling or punctuation errors? Yikes! These mistakes can easily change a writer’s credibility. If a business doesn’t take the time to ensure their product and brand are advertised correctly, then what faith should we have in the quality of their product?

You wouldn’t read a book that has misspellings or run-on sentences, would you? So, why would you settle for spelling errors in your advertisements? In the age of digital advertising, consumers are exposed to a minimum of 300 marketing messages per day. This includes the overload of ads you see on social media, the Internet, and gaming apps on your cell phone.

Every business from a basement startup to a Fortune 500 company is trying to get their content and product to stand out. This process can be time consuming and tedious, and more often than, not spelling and grammar will get put on the back burner. However, as it turns out spelling and grammar do matter in the eyes of consumers.

Studies have shown that just one spelling mistake on a website can cut a company’s online sales in half. That means a business could have potentially had $1,000 in sales (as opposed to the $500 in sales received) if their website didn’t contain a misspelling. Other studies state that more than half of consumers spend 15 seconds or less on a company’s website or looking at an advertisement. The window to make a good first impression is so tiny that you could lose a customer in the blink of an eye with poor grammar and spelling.

No matter what your business is, it’s important to seize all opportunities to hook clients and maximize profits. It’s better to spend time and money now in order to build a stronger brand rather than lose money later because of an avoidable error. Even established corporations might learn a thing or two from these simple tips!

Tip #1: Don’t rely entirely on spell check

The idea of spell check sounds great in theory, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your text is foolproof. For example, let’s look at a small ice cream shop that wants to advertise a special on their ice cream. The shop decides to hang a banner that says: “Buy one, get one free Sundays.” Technically there are zero spelling errors in this message. However, from a consumer standpoint, the customers might think all menu items are buy one, get one free on Sundays. What the ice cream shop really meant to say though is, “Buy one, get one free sundaes.”

Spell check simply makes sure that the words you typed are spelled correctly, not that the words make sense. Not to mention, spell check has a very limited dictionary and can become outdated easily. This means you could be spelling something right, but spell check is telling you that it’s wrong. Plus, not all versions include grammar checkers. Therefore, your spelling could look fantastic while your grammar is sloppy. Spell check is a great start to editing your work, but it should never be the only or last step before hitting send or publish.

Tip #2: Take a break and revisit

When you’re done writing something, let it sit for at least thirty minutes then revisit it later. This will allow you time to disassociate yourself with your work. Rereading what you wrote after a mental break will allow you to notice errors you might have glanced over while writing. It’s very common for people to glance over errors if they attempt to proof and edit while writing because they’re so familiar with the content.

This tip is actually recommended by many writing centers, professors, and authors. Coming back to your content after a break helps you clear your mind and look at your work more critically. Not only is this good for editing, but it is also great for mental clarity and preventing writer’s block. So take a break! Answer some emails, go to a meeting, take a walk, or enjoy your lunch before you start the editing process.

Tip #3: Four eyes are better than two

If possible, always have someone else read over your work before it’s published – the more people, the better! A friend or colleague may have a different way of processing information or offer a different perspective you never thought of. When you have many editors, your potential errors are more likely to be caught and fixed before the final publishing stage.

A third-party reader that isn’t familiar with the material or industry you’re representing is a great resource to have edit your work. This is because they may have suggestions to make the information easier to digest or suggest an innovative way to present the material. Another tip would be to read the text out loud. It’s easy to skim or overlook something when you’re reading quietly to yourself. By reading aloud, you’re limiting yourself from skipping over a word.

Tip #4: One at a time

Here’s the truth: Sometimes the most savvy marketing managers and social media specialists aren’t master editors. Even old pros at proofing have an off day from time to time. But we’ve got a no-fail, expert-approved method for editing.

When going back over your work to edit and proofread, try checking for one type of error at a time. This allows you to limit your focus and more likely to catch your mistakes. If you try to stretch your attention over five different issues at once, you’re most likely going to glance over more mistakes because you’re looking for too many things.

Follow these steps when proofreading your next project:

  1. Check for spelling errors.
  2. Check for grammar – this includes commas, semi colons, and anything else that has to do with the structure of your sentences.
  3. Check for punctuation – this would be your periods, question marks, exclamation points. Ask yourself, is the sentence a statement (period), a question (question mark), or something exciting (exclamation point)?
  4. Check for accuracy. If you have dates, important names, or historical references mentioned in your article, double check to make sure the information you have is accurate.
  5. Read out loud to check flow, tone, and subject-verb agreements.
  6. Repeat as needed.

We know that deadlines can be stressful for everyone, but proofreading documents in the aforementioned steps shouldn’t add extra time to your overall editing. In fact, checking one issue at a time can actually benefit your proofreading because your brain isn’t trying to digest every possible problem all at once.

When it comes to creating content that will shine in a sea of competition, these tips will aid in the quest for content perfection.  Let’s face it, nobody wants to be the person who cost the company to lose money over a spelling error, whether it’s on their website or a promotional product. You know you’ve got a great product, so go out there and create some excellent, error-free content to match!

Are you a stickler for grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Do you know of any mistakes that cost a company sales? Let us know in the comments below!



Image credit to Brian Warren.

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten loves the great outdoors (as long as there's no snow on the ground), and spends a good amount of her free time traveling. When she isn't traveling, she's spending time with her family, reading a new book, or working on her next home improvement project. If she could live anywhere in the world, you'd find her moving into Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World.


  1. Mandy Kilinskis

    I am totally with you! I am frequently annoyed by companies that consistently produce content with misspellings and errors. I can forgive it every so often (we’re only human!), but when common words or titles or names are misspelled, it really grinds my gears. I can’t even read the Chicago Tribune online anymore – their copy is horrendous! I once read a short article that had two misspellings and then Tribune was spelled “Tribne.” I mean, really? I’m sure that they had to downsize their copy editing department, but really? They can’t even spell Tribune anymore?

    Thanks for the refresher! I find that once I finish writing a blog, I’ll switch tasks for an hour or so and come back to it. It definitely helps me catch the mistakes!

  2. Rachel

    Great blog! I edit for a literary magazine (on nights and weekends, of course :)), and I am in complete, utter agreement about the importance of clean copy, no matter the business or industry. I think a lot of people underestimate the necessity of copyediting because they assume that good content is enough — but readers are going to notice errors, and that’s going to reflect poorly on the company, no matter how good the actual words are.

    I really love your tips, too! All of them are excellent suggestions. The one about spell-checking programs on word processors is especially important, I think, since many people rely on the computer to catch mistakes. But if you misspell “read” as “red,” Word is not going to find that. There’s no replacement for a sharp human eye, in my mind. 🙂

  3. amy

    From experience I know that having multiple sets of eyes re-read a document can save you from a lot of trouble later on. At an internship I did last fall my coworker and I had to write a player handbook for a volleyball team and between our four eyes we also had our supervisor read it, one of the accountants, and the project manager read it. 10 sets of eyes read through it and by the end it was perfect 🙂 It took a little while, but the work was well worth all the effort.

  4. Amanda

    There are some great tips here! Spelling is very important, especially for businesses. If they can’t spell, or don’t proofread, it just makes them look silly! I can’t recall seeing a website that had misspellings , but if I did, I would question the site I was on. Human error will always be a factor, but if enough people check it out, they should be able to get it straight. I forgive comma errors pretty easily, as I am not always sure of when to use them. 😉

  5. Jill Tooley

    Great post! I don’t know if I’d necessarily stop shopping at an online store because of a spelling or grammar error, but I might raise an eyebrow if I noticed it. Although, I suppose it really depends on the error! 😉

    The stats you mentioned are interesting indeed. Losing 50% of sales is never a good thing!

  6. Mardelle Poffenberger

    Thanks for the info.! I have a long running argument with the owner of the business I manage. She will consistently publish promotional information leaving in spelling and grammar errors, saying most people will not notice. I contend that these errors show a lack of professionalism and attention to detail, which would be detrimental in our line of business! With her, it’s a losing battle, but one I will continue to fight.

    • Candice J.

      Thanks for commenting Mardelle! I believe this battle is never a losing battle while the company still exists. It may be a hard battle to fight but one that is more than worth the effort. I feel that today’s society has such an urgency to put things out as quickly as possible they stop becoming concerned with the quality of what they produce and expose. Perhaps create a suggestion box or question for your customers/clients asking them how they feel and what is their take on the issue. That way she can see it’s not coming just from you and she gets a real life response from how other people view it and how it could come back to haunt her! Hope everything works out and she finally comes over to your side!

  7. Judy Hill

    Hi…I just finished writing an e-mail to the “head” of an online company I write ads for where I might While reading the latest blog…I came across two blatant errors. The word was a simple one to spell, but somehow the writer put in an extra letter that changed the whole meaning of the word he meant! It’s especially bad when a copywriter who claims to be professional does this. I was appalled! Another copywriter created a headline with a misspelled word. Guess what that was…Copywritting with 2 t’s!

    I, too, see these errors many times on the internet. When I do receive a message where everything is spelled right, grammatically correct, makes good sense…I’m elated! I have instant respect and adoration for this person. (Maybe adoration is a bit far fetched…but you know what I mean:-) We all make copy errors; but the key is to find and correct them before you post your message.

    I wanted to see if anyone else out there felt the same way I do. I Googled the subject and I found you. Thanks! Now I don’t feel so alone.

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  10. Ella

    When spending a lot of time reading books, blogs or articles online, like I do, one becomes accustomed to a certain level of spelling and grammar. We don’t even think about it half the time, but our subconscious mind notices.

    When we pick up on a spelling error or a particularly sloppy piece of grammar, we are tripped up.

    It’s similar to walking along a path on a beautiful sunny day, taking in the view and enjoying the scenery only to trip over a stone. Our train of thought is disrupted.

    Reading is a trick of the mind and in publishing something we are actually asking for other people’s time and attention. So it becomes an issue of common decency – to make sure that all rocks, big stones and pebbles are cleared from the path before we invite anyone to walk along it.

  11. Ian

    Tell all that to the TV advertising agencies which cant spell – Lendi, Choosi, youi, phooi and pooi – or finish sentences – ‘start your impossible’, etc., etc.

  12. Vanessa

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    on the internet. I most certainly will recommend this web site!

  13. Michael Car

    I was quite impressed with what you had to say. I had originally Googled whether spelling errors punctuation boo-boos had any impact on the credibility of the product (even informational… maybe even especially, because even though the “product” is not a tangible thing you can touch or hold physically, words can touch your heart and you can easily hold info in your mind (a.k.a. learning… lol)). But I was originally curious whether anyone had (or even could) done an actual experiment. The answer I got is a vague ‘No.’
    I have to ask your forgiveness and to accept my apology… but I was wondering: do I get extra points for noticing the 2 errors in your article?
    The first one is 3 (three? could someone please help me with that one? when do you do 3 vs three?) paragraphs in, just over halfway down, “…tedious, and more often than, not spelling…” where, if I am not mistaken, doesn’t the comma go after the ‘not,’ rather than the ‘than’? (Wasn’t sure if I was supposed to-as usual-put the question mark inside the quotes as it was not originally part of the statement in question.)
    Okay, so the second one is the second (2nd? lol) paragraph after the 6 proofreading steps, again about halfway down, it says, “person who cost the company to lose money…” which-I think- was a combination of two different ways you could have worded that sentence by either
    1. “…person who CAUSED the company to lose money…,” or,
    2. “…person who cost the company […] money…,” where the [brackets] are, the two words, “to lose” are removed.
    I am very familiar with that second one because it is one that I do all the time. You know how it goes:
    ZOOOM! Oh, you are rocking this article! It could even be said that you are ‘in the zone,’ right? You are thinking so fast that a Sonic Boom should be along shortly! B…u…t… even though…you can type…110+ words/mi…nute, you think so much faster than that! So, it is inevitable that as you are seeing from several angles just how this, that, and over there could be written, sometimes you have unavoidable accidents. Well, at least here, at worst, you walk away with a bruised sense of pride…at worst. Yeah, we ‘super-sonic-fast-type’ thinkers are mortal too. Now you know.

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