We're all prone to spelling slip-ups, but it's best to avoid tattooing a typo on your body.

Hands up if you've ever sent a text or a tweet and and felt your heart sink microseconds later as you realise you included a typo? We live in such a fast-paced society that we get a message and, without a second's hesitation, we ping off a reply. So is it any wonder we make mistakes? And is it such a big deal?

Sheffield University psychologist Tom Stafford says the reason typos get through isn't because we're stupid or careless, it's because what we're doing is actually very smart. Apparently, when we look at what we type on a keyboard or a smartphone we know in our own minds what we're trying to say. And because that's what we expect it to say we just don't see the mistakes – until it's too late.

So are typos a serious offence? It all depends on the scale of the mistake. Dan Quayle will probably never live down his famous 'potatoe' blunder of 1992 – and that was written by hand, so he can't blame autocorrect. Then, in 2012 Mitt Romney's iPhone app campaign called for 'A better Amercia'.

Still, it could have been worse – he could have cast the typo in metal. In 2010, embarrassed Chilean mint chiefs sacked their general manager after thousands of coins were made with the name of their country spelled wrongly. Instead of 'Chile', the coins, minted in 2008, were marked 'Chiie'. The 50-peso coins, worth about six pence, circulated for a year before the error was spotted – and they remain in circulation today.

The lesson here is to check things carefully, particularly when you're writing something permanent like the inscription on a coin – or a tattoo. You've probably seen the photo circulating on social media of the tattoo which read 'no regerts'.

Simple typos can even change your life. Thanks to autocorrect, one job applicant once texted me to say: “Sorry I can't get the information over to you. I'm having terrible wife problems.” It should have said wifi.

So, we all make mistakes – and you shouldn't be paralysed with fear at the thought of making a typo (I made a few when I drafted this post). But do check and double check what you write, because mistakes can't half make you look silly.

From notebook

Case study

About us

Small by design

Because Polon is a small studio (run by Matt and Janet), there are no layers of account management – you get to work directly with a writer.

Find out more