10 Interface Typos You Don’t Even Know You’re Making

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Is it login or log in? Ebook or eBook? Who even knows any more? In this article, I’ll highlight the 10 most common user interface typos I see (as in all the time) and help you avoid them. When I say they’re typos you don’t even know you’re making, I’m not kidding. Some of these typos are so ubiquitous you’ll probably want to argue their inclusion in this list. That’s what the comments are for! Don’t hold back…

1. Login and log in

Probably the most common UI typo is this one. We see “login” used as a sort of call to action all over the web. But if you’re inviting someone to enter their user name and password to enter your site, it should be “log in”. Login is a noun—each user has a unique login. Log in is the verb form. It’s what users do to access their accounts.

2. Signup and sign up

Same deal as above. Incidentally, I’ve noticed sites that serve more technical audiences seem to use “log in” more often, while sites that serve less technical, more mainstream audiences tend to use the synonym “sign in”. Whatever you do, don’t confuse “sign in” with “sign up”, which has the same meaning as “join”.

3. Setup and set up

This is the last of these noun/verb confusions, but it’s an important one. A “setup” is a scenario or situation. If you want someone to “set up” their account, you’ll need the two-word verb form. I always think this one’s particularly important because, while it seems as simple as “sign up”, to set something up implies work. As a user, I usually expect to sign up to a new site in a moment. But set up my account? I’ll expect that to take some time. Again, be careful that you’re using the right phrase—and the correct form, noun or verb, as the situation requires.

4. Right-click and right click

One that appears often in interface instructions and help content, “right-click” should be hyphenated. So should many adjectives that refer to left and right: top-right, bottom-left. And left-hand (unless you choose to write it all as one word: lefthand). In these terms, hyphens reduce ambiguity and potential confusion. You might argue that there’s not a tonne of ambiguity in telling a user, “Then right click on the file icon.” But it’s not as clear as “Then right-click on the file icon.” And in a situation where users are already struggling and/or have limited time to take in the message, that little hyphen can be a big help. Also, if you’re using these words as adjectives (for example, “in the bottom-left corner”), a hyphen is a grammatical necessity.

5. Free and for free

A technicality, but one worth knowing: the terminology “for free” is colloquial, not “proper” English. Which is probably why the phrase “Buy one, get one free” is more common than “Buy one, get one for free.” We can buy something for a fee, or we can get it free.

6. Everyday and every day

If you’re talking about something that happens every single day, it’s written with a space: “We’ll send you project updates every day.” The only time you wouldn’t write every day as two words is when you’re using the phrase as an adjective, to describe something as common or normal: “Just part of our everyday service.” So you might have “everyday low prices”, but “low prices every day.”

7. Instore and in store

This term, which is most commonly used by brick and mortar retailers with an online presence, follows the same rules as “everyday” and “every day.” You might offer “instore specials” but you’d have “great specials in store” for customers who take up your offer in the next 24 hours, for example.

8. Through and thru

Ha! If this one made you look twice, don’t worry. My point here isn’t that these terms are used differently—it’s that “thru” isn’t a word. It might be a colloquial short for of “through” that you use, for example, in a text to your business partner because you can’t be bothered typing “clickthrough” on your phone, but that’s about as far as it goes. You’re not texting your customers off the cuff; you can probably afford the time and respect to write “through”, including every single one of its lovely letters.

9. Discount on and discount off

This one’s more justifiably confusing. Apple dictionary defines a discount as a “deduction from the usual cost of something”; my pocket Oxford describes it as a “discount from the amount due.” So a discount automatically entails a reduction. While “discount off” isn’t quite a double-negative, it’s not accurate or grammatically correct. Your price might be discounted from
the normal price, and customers might get a discount on their next purchase. But “discount off” doesn’t make any sense.

10. Email, eBook and others

What’s right? Email or eMail? Ebook or eBook? What if we use iPhone at the start of a sentence? Easiest to grasp are brand names and other proper nouns. If Apple says it’s iPhone, then that’s what it is, whether it’s at the start of a sentence or not. But e-prefixed terms like email and ebook aren’t proper nouns. They deserve no capital unless they’re starting a sentence. And what does the world of English grammar tell us about capitalizing the word at the start of a sentence? Capitalize the first letter. So it’s not “eBook sales have soared.” It’s “Ebook sales have soared.” The same usage applies to “email”. You might hyphenate e-prefixed words within your organization or business, as dictated by your style guide. But the capitalization rules I’ve mentioned here should still apply.

Check your interface

Check your interfaces and emails, and see how many of these typos you’re making. I’ll bet you’ll find a few. As I said above, these errors are everywhere. If you’ve spotted these, or others, on your site, let us know in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Interface Typos

What are interface typos and why are they important?

Interface typos are errors in the text that appears on a user interface, such as a website, app, or software program. These can include misspellings, incorrect grammar, or misuse of terminology. They are important because they can confuse users, make the interface look unprofessional, and even cause functionality issues. For example, a typo in a button label might make it unclear what the button does, leading to user errors.

How can I avoid making interface typos?

The best way to avoid making interface typos is to proofread your work carefully. Use spell check tools, but don’t rely on them completely as they may not catch all errors. It’s also helpful to have someone else review your work, as they might spot mistakes that you’ve overlooked.

What is the difference between ‘right-click’ and ‘right click’?

Right-click’ and ‘right click’ are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference. ‘Right-click’ is a verb that refers to the action of clicking the right button of a mouse. ‘Right click’, on the other hand, is a noun that refers to the right button of a mouse itself.

What are some common interface typos?

Some common interface typos include misspelling ‘click’ as ‘clik’, ‘button’ as ‘buton’, or ‘scroll’ as ‘scrol’. Other common mistakes include using the wrong form of a word, such as ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’, or ‘its’ instead of ‘it’s’.

How can interface typos affect user experience?

Interface typos can negatively impact user experience by causing confusion, frustration, and mistrust. They can make it difficult for users to understand how to use the interface, and they can make the interface look unprofessional, which can erode trust in the product or company.

How can I correct interface typos?

If you notice an interface typo, you should correct it as soon as possible. This usually involves editing the text in the interface’s code or content management system. After making the correction, be sure to test the interface to ensure that the correction didn’t cause any functionality issues.

What is the impact of interface typos on SEO?

Interface typos can negatively impact SEO by making it harder for search engines to understand the content of your site. This can result in lower rankings in search results, which can lead to less traffic to your site.

How can I prevent interface typos in the future?

To prevent interface typos in the future, consider implementing a process for reviewing and testing your interface text. This could involve multiple rounds of proofreading, using automated spell check tools, and conducting user testing to catch any errors that might have been missed.

Are there any tools that can help me detect interface typos?

Yes, there are several tools that can help you detect interface typos. These include spell check tools, grammar check tools, and user testing tools. Some content management systems also have built-in spell check features.

What should I do if I find an interface typo on someone else’s site?

If you find an interface typo on someone else’s site, you might consider contacting the site owner or webmaster to let them know about the error. They may appreciate the feedback and be able to correct the error quickly.

Georgina LaidlawGeorgina Laidlaw
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Georgina has more than fifteen years' experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. With a background in marketing and a passion for words, the time Georgina spent with companies like Sausage Software and sitepoint.com cemented her lasting interest in the media, persuasion, and communications culture.

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