Being able to spell correctly is a fundamental skill that everyone learns at school, along with grammar and all the rules of literacy. In an office setting, you’re likely to send emails, letters and write reports, all of which are expected to be free of spelling mistakes to come across professional; however everyone slips up from time to time, right?

A recent study from the Oxford Open Learning Trust looked at spelling mistakes in the UK, and of 2,000 UK adults asked; over half (at 56%) say they’d judge someone based on their spelling. It found that, unsurprisingly, the worse kind of spelling mistakes are those in a formal setting, e.g. in a CV or at work, causing embarrassment, and judgement from those who spot errors.

The survey also revealed that a huge 92% of UK adults use some form of spell-check to avoid any embarrassing mistakes, whether it be auto-correct, online spellcheckers or dictionaries. We have a lot to thank auto-correct and spell-checkers for, however they aren’t always reliable. On smartphones, autocorrect and predictive-text features can often predict wrongly, and if texting, messaging or emailing in a hurry, a spelling error or completely different word than intended could be sent.

Spelling and the frequency of an employee’s mistakes can be costly; many may judge a person’s entire intelligence on a single typo. Oxford Open Learning spoke to account manager Sarah Taylor, and from her experience misspelling her name on her CV, it’s clear a small mistake could be costly.

“I realised my mistake and sent an updated CV but they binned the new one! They said that it would usually have been thrown out with a spelling error in it but due to the wealth of experience on my CV they decided to interview me anyway. Just goes to show that work experience goes a long way – I was fresh out of university, it was my first job and I was in it for nearly seven years!” she explains.

The most difficult-to-spell words from the survey are listed below:
  1. Haemorrhage
  2. Manoeuvre
  3. Conscientious
  4. Desiccate
  5. Conscience
  6. Nauseous
  7. Embarrassment
  8. Pronunciation
  9. Mischievous
  10. Minuscule
Courses director and founder of Oxford Open Learning Trust, Dr Nick Smith comments on the results:

“It seems that spelling is becoming a less essential skill- thanks to the popularity of social media and the increased use of emoticons to communicate not to mention easy access to spelling automation tools.”

It’s clear that while a small typo may not matter, it can cause embarrassment or even cost you an opportunity and so it’s worth proof-reading, and proof-reading again before sending off any word-related text documents. If an employee seriously struggles, there are courses available to improve on spelling skills, as Dr Nick Smith continues:

“Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to brush up on spelling ability through distance learning courses. For someone who finds they’re being held back at work or in applying for a new job, it can make all the difference.”


Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our Content Writer.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with a love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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