street cred

Do typos really hurt someone's credibility?

I used to think not. Even brilliant academics make typos that sometimes go unchecked.

Last week in my reporting class, we received a handout about interviewing techniques by an apparently prestigious interviewer (whose name now escapes me), and I found three typos in about three pages. I wasn't even reading carefully at that point, so it's possible there were quite a few more.

And I thought, "Why should I read this? This guy probably knows what he's talking about, but he can't even take the time to clean up his typos." And it did hurt his credibility. And I did wonder if there were other errors, perhaps more important ones.

This is in part because I know how seriously journalists take these minor errors and how meticulously they normally try to avoid them. So either this guy was eschewing the standards of his profession, or he simply didn't care/edit carefully when writing this article.

So I wonder if it is just because I expect journalists to so carefully avoid any minor typo/misspelling/misplaced hyphen that I am immediately suspicious when they do. If the standards were a bit more lax -- not free-for-all, anything goes, but just less hyper-sensitivity to errors not affecting meaning -- would I (and readers) not take such errors to heart and not treat them as such serious damage to credibility?


  1. It depends on the reason that the text was created and who created it. If it's a private communication, then some errors are acceptable. If it's a professional publication, then that is much less acceptable. If it's a professional publication from someone who specializes in some type of writing, then that is very bad.

  2. You told me about this before. It was around the time you were pondering which site to go to. I made my own social blogging site since then, but that was after you already left.