The letters B and S aren’t that close on a keyboard, even writing them, it’s hard to mix them up unlike b and p for example which can cause problems for some people when writing something by hand (as opposed to typing).
However, there has been mix-ups in recent days. A Fox news channel in the US has made the mix-up between b and s by writing Obama instead of Osama, according to the Guardian. It was waiting to happen, and it’s no surprise given the difference of just one letter between the names of the heads of two opposing regimes, that there has been mistakes.
An eye for an I
Remember the jokes about Iceland and Ireland when the banking crisis kicked off?
I concur with the Guardian that this happened in a number of newsrooms due to the speediness of breaking news. But if so many people rely on breaking news and so much news is broken via Twitter, how can we rely on it if it’s just going to be the norm for it to be littered with misspellings which in turn results in misinformation eg Obama shot (instead of Osama). Is it any wonder that Obama showed the world his long form birth cert last week – because somewhere along the way this week someone is bound to get Osama and Obama mixed up and think something a bit far fetched.
As an editor I’ve seen many a spelling mistake. Sometimes misspellings are cloaked by the Word document language being set to US English instead of Irish/British for some mysterious technical reason I’ll never understand. Sometimes it seems people are too damn lazy to check over their work or have never been taught that checking back over your written work before pressing send or save is always a really good idea.
Sort out those spellings
If you think you may fall into the loose with written words category, here’s a few tips to get you writing words that are spelled the way they should.
- How do you know if you are bad at spelling? Ask someone, I guess, or keep an eye on the squiggly red lines littering the Word document, email or CMS page you are working on.
- Know the words you have difficulty spelling and check them in an online dictionary, a real dictionary or by keeping a list taped to your monitor.
- Turn on the option on whatever system you’re working on to catch misspellings. Nothing like a squiggly red line underneath a word to give you an idea something is wrong.
- Ask someone else to read your work – even your mother or your son. Anyone really, hopefully they don’t have the same problem with misspelling the same words as you do.
- If you’re using Twitter or Facebook or some system to update such feeds for work reasons, definitely make sure you read back over what you’re about to broadcast to the world. Don’t have time, well it’s only a measly 140 characters innit?
- Use a sub-editor. Here, most of our work is ‘subbed’ or proofread before it appears on a client’s website. If you have something you’d like checked for spelling, grammar, punctuation, correct use of words, send it on and we’ll give you a quote.
Over to you
What are your most common misspellings? Is it words with lots of letters or words that can be spelled two different ways?
PS I haven’t looked back over this piece, purposely. Please let me know of any mistakes by commenting below!