Erase Embarrassing Typos in 5 Minutes

Have Mercy!

No matter how great your command of the English language is, it will slip your notice at some point if it hasn’t already … the dreaded typo.

A typo or typographical error is a mistake made in the typing process of text. This may include speling and grammar errors, typing the same same word, or misplacing pesky apostrophe’s.

Did you notice my intentional errors in the previous sentence? Good for you! It’s my tongue-in-cheek stab at humor to propose this:

Let’s all take a break from grammar shaming and be compassionate toward those poor folks who accidentally leave a typo and even absolve those who are typo-prone.

Ouch! 5 Famous Typos That Will Make You Cringe

Pardon these errors …

1. Courtesy Granted to Prisoners Due to Belly Button Flint

While we’re more inclined to forgive those who are not in a writing profession, authors like famous Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer, H.P. Lovecraft, have been shown little mercy by the Grammar Police. Take for instance his typo in a passage of “The Fiction” …

… our vessel was made a legitimate prize, whilst we of her crew were treated with all the fairness and consideration due us as navel prisoners.

What he wished he had typed …

… our vessel was made a legitimate prize, whilst we of her crew were treated with all the fairness and consideration due us as naval prisoners.

2. Grammar-Shaming Attempt Gone Wrong

You know that saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!” Well, one celebrity should have heeded that advice when his attempt to shame an announcer’s poor grammar choice during a news broadcast went horribly wrong …

Fox announcer: “He was covered pretty good.” Boo. #DeathOfGrammer #LoweringTheBar

What he really meant …

Fox announcer: “He was covered pretty good.” Boo. #DeathOfGrammar #LoweringTheBar

3. Big Brother Is Watching

When a U.S. presidential hopeful launched an iPhone App in 2012 in order to help stir up support, his team made a case for copy editors everywhere with this slogan …

A Better Amercia

What he really meant …

A Better America

4. A Saucy and Wicked Bible

In their attempt to reprint the King James Bible in 1631, Robert Barker and Martin Lucas made a rather suggestive typo by unintentionally omitting the word “not” …

Thou shalt commit adultery.

What they meant …

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

5. Cue George Takei, “Oh Myyy!”

The University of Texas at Austin had to issue a special apology for the grievous error that appeared at the bottom of its 2012 Commencement programs …

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Pubic Affairs

What this prestigious institution really meant …

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

Why Is it So Difficult to Catch Errors Like This?

“Haste makes waste” they say and typos are often a result of hasty writing.

It’s unreasonable to expect someone to slow down to a snail’s pace when the pressure to publish is so extreme in the fast-paced writing world of articles, blogs, tweets, and posts.

To err is to be human; be compassionate toward those who make errors by perhaps sending them a polite message informing them of the mistake. As for your own writing, be as vigilant as you possibly can, but don’t let it paralyze your ability to create or publish.

How to Erase Embarrassing Typos in 5 Minutes

First, the number one rule of proofreading: DO NOT WRITE AND PROOFREAD AT THE SAME TIME. It’s just a waste of time. Proofread AFTER you’re done writing and revising your content.

Next, put on your copyediting hat and use these 5 tips to catch those embarrassing typos in 5 minutes per article.

  • Use your spellcheck! For all of your article needs, we provide a spellcheck in the WYSIWYG of the Submit New Article form of your member account.
  • Read your article out loud to catch awkward spelling and sentences – it really does work if you give it a concentrated effort.
  • Look up definitions or grammar usage for areas you’re not positive on – it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Improve your focus by closing the door to distractions and taking care of any stress that’s nagging you.
  • Change the font type or even the font size to help you spot wayward errors.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

One final tip before you scramble to quickly hunt for those errors you repeatedly make:

Most computers will allow you to perform a quick search function by typing Ctrl F (for PC users) or CMD F (for MAC users) on your keyboard, which will bring up a navigation field. Here you can enter a word or phrase. For example, if “it’s” is a common typo for you, I’d recommend typing in “its” and then select Enter or Return to examine every occurrence of it in your article (ensuring it’s grammatically correct). Find “it’s” as well to be doubly sure.

If there’s one thing I’d like you to remember in this post, it’s this: when using the word “public,” double – no – triple check to make sure you remembered to add the “L.”

What typos plague you? What’s the worst (or funniest) typo you’ve come across? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you and feel free to share this gem that inspired this post:

Ode to the Typographical Error

“The typographical error is a slippery thing and sly;
You can hunt till you are dizzy, but it somehow will get by.
Till the forms are on the press, it is strange how still it keeps.
It shrinks down in a corner, and it never stirs or peeps –
That typographical error, too small for human eyes –
Till the ink is on the paper, when it grows to mountain size.
The boss, he stares with horror, then he grabs his hair and groans;
The copyreader drops his head upon his hands and moans.
The remainder of the issue may be clean as clean can be,
But the typographical error is the only thing you see.”
– Author Unknown

If you loved this article, then check out our Grammar Tips Category for more!

30 Comments »


1
Brian Howard writes:

eggselent artical I kan onestley say I cannott remembar the larst tyme I maid a speling misstake or grammatticle erra, stil, somwon hass to bee pefickt x

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 10:42 AM

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2

One mattress vendor placed a board reading ” Twenty Bugs for One Bed. Hurry”
He meant twenty bucks for one bed.

Really typo corrupts the meaning.

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM

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3
David Southan writes:

A surprisingly common typo is made with the words ‘professional’ and ‘professionally’. There’s nothing worse than praising your services with a line such as: ‘All work proffesionally carried out.’, etc.

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 11:30 AM

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4
Greg De Tisi writes:

Very useful article. I must say I know that I am guilty of dreaded typo’s and it amazes me how many I find in expert books.

Great work and thanks,

Greg

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 11:31 AM

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5
David Croucher writes:

The problem with the typos you’ve highlighted above is that they’ll often pass the most stringent tests – our eyes just slip past them. That goes for a repeated word, too – especially when the repeat is over a line break as you read.

Here’s one tip I got from a newspaper proof reader 60 years ago (when they actually DID employ proofreaders, and thought the money well spent, because typos were shameful then). Read your text backwards, starting at the bottom right and ending at the top left. This breaks up the natural rhythm of reading, so you can spot typing errors and pause over every likely improper substitution. This was before spellcheckers, of course; today that part, at least, is easy to fix.

But go back now to the article and find the embarrasing errors again. They really are hard to spot!

And did you spot mine in the last sentence?

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 11:38 AM

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6
Denise Rutledge writes:

Love it. Thanks for the tip for using quick search to hunt down your own consistent typos. I’ll be using that from now on to locate form when it’s supposed to be from, your when it’s supposed to be you and the other whole word typos my fingers seem to make of their own volition, none of which I can think of at the moment.

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 12:21 PM

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7
Keith writes:

I once made a doozy of a typo:

I was working at an analyst at a 24/7 network operations center (NOC) for a very large telecom company. We had one third-shift employee who needed a day off and was having trouble finding someone to switch shifts with him. He was not a very well-liked employee, and had been quite a whiner because he was running out of time and needed someone to switch shifts with him ASAP. That’s how I got involved, and–after finally finding someone to cover his time–sent this whopper of an email (of course, the entire management team was on copy):

“It took a lot of work and quite a bit of searching, but I finally found someone who is willing to take your shift. Enjoy the time off.”

Only, I omitted the “F” from “Shift.”

Funny how, even with the typo, the sentence still worked.. just in a very, VERY different way!

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 2:54 PM

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Haha, Keith!

One of those embarrassing moments, but I’m sure it’s also happened to a lot of us!

~Vanessa

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8
CH James writes:

From time to time, I’ll start at the end of something I’ve written and read it backwards, one sentence at a time. If I’ve worked on a piece long enough, my mind begins to recognize what is supposed to come next and starts to tell me what I want it to say, rather than what’s actually written on the page. You obviously can’t judge something like the flow of your content with this proofreading method, but for finding typos and punctuation mistakes, it has definitely helped me in the past.

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 3:14 PM

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David Croucher writes:

My expert’s tip was to read it backwards a WORD at a time, not a sentence – so you’re reading individual words only. (And it was 50 years ago, not 60, now I think. Makes me feel young again!)

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9

Nobody is perfect, even the spellcheckers aren’t always correct.
Thanks for the lesson.

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 3:36 PM

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David Croucher writes:

Spellcheckers are NEVER ‘correct’, Moonke. All they do is to match each word to the words they have on file, and highlight when there’s no match. It then needs a brain to decide what to do next. The value of a spellchecker is to show you immediately when a typo has resulted in a non-word (or a word not on file, which you’ll want to check carefully yourself and put on file if you’ll use it much.)

What spellcheckers can never do is check correct grammatical use of a word, though grammar checkers can at least remind you to differentiate ‘which’, ‘witch’ and ‘that’, for example. The grammar checker is programed with the common confusions and will highlight places to check. The machine is NEVER right; it just shows you where to look when you’re proofreading.

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10
Victor Scerri writes:

Remember those smile’s and you’ve cracked it. Thus, the days of writing with a human embracement to the junky critique, is to keep us sharp.

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 5:31 PM

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11
Matthew Morris writes:

I never make tpyos.

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 8:39 PM

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12
Schalk Lubbe writes:

I work for an insurance company and I’m not a natural typist. The typing mistake that I make most often is with the word commisison (don’t know why my fingers always let that second i slip in between the two esses. Fortunately the spell checker always catches that one …
But when the replacement word is a valid word (like in Keith’s doozy above) it simply slips past the spell checker.
Thanks for the tip to read backwards, David — I will certainly implement that suggestion. Yes, it will take time, but if it helps me find just one lousy error in a year it will be worth the time spent (especially since English is not my first language)

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 9:39 PM

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13
Lance Winslow writes:

This is one of the pearls of self-editing right after you complete a work, its very frequent in online article writing because one generally writes, edits and posts – the trick is to slow it down, break-it-up and the let time lapse between writing and editing. Or let someone else proof-read if you can – this blog is correct, think on it.

Comment provided December 20, 2013 at 10:29 PM

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14
Greg De Tisi writes:

The worst thing I used to do when I was in a rush was to send a deeply informative and valuable e-mail and afterwards look at how good my message was but then, I noticed all of the speeling erorrs. Oops!:)

Comment provided December 21, 2013 at 7:18 AM

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15
David Skinner writes:

I call those inadvertent errors as typical-graphical mistakes.
david

Comment provided December 21, 2013 at 2:44 PM

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16
Serge writes:

Well-written! Metaphors are amazing!
I’m sure I do typos but I can’t remember and name some of my most frequent mistakes…probably because I always try to watch my writing. Though it’s harder to identify mistakes afterwards, because you become, sort of, confident that didn’t do them. Now, that’s tricky…

Comment provided December 21, 2013 at 3:20 PM

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17
steven guy writes:

Hi Charlie well what if ye were in hospital for very long time. I was and I always have a problem with my comprehention and grammer because of this I hate it because I just want to write great articles but find I leave typos every ware and can I help it, far as i’m concerned its ok but I know if someone had a look at my harticles they see my mistakes. Any way I love your emails and posts show me a way to get over this . Thanks Stevie G

Comment provided December 24, 2013 at 3:56 AM

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David Croucher writes:

Good plain writing, Stevie. I can see maybe 15 mistakes in this short piece, but you know, none of them matter – I get the sense of what you want to say fine, and if I read it aloud to a friend, they’d hear what you’re saying and not see the spelling and grammar mistakes.

But you are right. If I tried to read a novel written like this, I’d give up in despair because the slips would be so jarring that I wouldn’t be able to read smoothly. And, although your comment here is clear and unambiguous, there’s be bound to be lots of places in a longer piece, like a novel or an article, where people wouldn’t read it as you intended because of the ambiguities.

The answer is to get someone with good spelling and grammar, but maybe not with your flair for expression or your subject expertise, to go over what you write and fix all that stuff, coming back to you where there are alternate meanings that you didn’t intend. Such a person is called a proof-reader.

Almost every great writer needs a proof-reader. Few writers can do stuff error-free, and some of the mistakes, even by the best, can be awful. And, as you say, not many get an English language education to the highest level, so we all slip up even where we think we’re right. I’ve just finished reading an e-book by a New York Times best-selling author, which didn’t get the proof-reading her print stuff does – and it’s absolutely full of mistakes that I’m sure she makes all the time. But when the big publisher gets her manuscripts, they set a proof-reader on it, and none of this stuff gets to the public. This is different than having an editor, by the way – that’s another story, for another article.

So don’t be put off. Write those articles as you want to, then get them fixed for spelling and grammar before you put them in for publication. It’ll still be your work (unless that pesky editor gets too uppity!)

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steven guy writes:

Thanks for your honesty it works wonders for me. Yes you are write ill do just that and see if I can improove my work. thanks for your encouragement I look forward to doing so with EzineArticles. Stevie Guy

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18
Mike Andrews writes:

What I do to try to eradicate typos is to check what I have written a couple of times. I have found that that just to check once is no guarantee that all typos have been eradicated!

Comment provided December 24, 2013 at 9:13 AM

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19
Denise Rutledge writes:

LOL. I’m not sure I’ve seen a comment yet that doesn’t contain a typo or misplaced word. :) I try to read my comments through a few times, once visually and once out loud. If there’s still a typo after that, I can say I tried. As someone who claims to be an expert, I feel it is worth the effort to make every communication as error-free as possible.

Reading each word backwards won’t catch misplaced words, though it will help you catch duplicates and misspelled words (if you spell well).

Comment provided December 24, 2013 at 11:07 AM

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20
IPIA writes:

Perhaps this is old school but this works for me. The best way to proof read any important document is to print it out and to take a red pen and go through it.

Comment provided December 28, 2013 at 1:37 AM

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21
Norma Holt writes:

Very good advice. I always have typos slip through because I wrote so fast. The spell check does not always pick them up either. So I write in word and try harder to spot them before they injure someone. Ugh.

By the way when I was in medical school years ago I wrote, the image forms on the rectum” instead of ‘the image forms on the retina’. I was of course referring to the working of the eye. Caused severe embarrassment for months afterwards.It wasn’t a typo just a mental slip up.

thanks.

Comment provided December 30, 2013 at 4:53 AM

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David Croucher writes:

And that’s the point, Norma. To be semantically correct, ‘TYPOgraphical errors’ are today’s equivalent of a compositor putting the wrong ‘type’ (a bit of lead with the letter on the end) into his compositing stick as he made up a line, or a Linotype operator hitting the wrong key on his machine. Today it’s the same, almost random mistake, and because it’s random, it tends (though not always) to be rather a glaring error. That’s not so much like the apocryphal ‘computer error’, though, which we’re always blaming for wrong bills or receipts. In fact, the genuine computer error is rather more likely to err by glaringly huge sums; the small error is almost always a human one. That’s why spell checkers pick up just those errors that we’d have spotted anyway.

Our heading poem has the right of it. Even back in the era from which it comes, I can recall finding letters in my stick which I didn’t want there, and assumed that I had picked up one which had been put in the wrong box. No such thing, though – my mind had directed my fingers the wrong way, into the wrong box. As you say, our fingers don’t always do what we want them to; or rather, we’re thinking ahead as we type, and I, for one, find myself pressing the key now that I meant to press a dozen strokes ahead! Much more common now that I’m older, I think.

You might like to note that each one of the 5 slips highlighted in the article is a slip ‘in the mind’, not by a machine. None of them is a random error. So, as we’ve all been saying all along, thorough proof-reading is essential if we want a ‘clean copy’, and we need to be kind to those who leave some glaring embarrassment despite thorough checking – because we’ve all been there!

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22
Sandi writes:

Thank you so much for these tips. I am a bit of a grammar/punctuation Nazi, and I am trying to be less critical. Now that I have my own websites I am embarrassed to see typos occurring from time to time! Your tips are really helpful. I will admit I had to pore over a couple of your quotes to see the difference between “what he said” and “what he meant”, which just goes to show how easy it is to miss the typos!

Comment provided January 2, 2014 at 6:14 AM

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David Croucher writes:

A goodly progress, methinks, Sandi. I was brought up by ‘grammar Nazis’ (in an English Grammar School) who had exactly one answer to everything, tolerated no dissent and used force to police their dominance. I still have the scars!

But in truth, for over a century the leading grammaticists have been pointing out that our language has been developing for a millennium, and should not be fossilized in late 19th century Brit/US/Ozzie practice (choose your flavour) as trumpeted by self-styled ‘Grammar Masters’ in their school textbooks. The major language guides have always recognized slow change in common practice, with an avant-garde always pushing those limits. Modern ‘style police’ would have lynched Shakspere for his innovations – and those are said to be nearly 10% of our current language! It took me 30 years or so to realize that what I was taught at school was NOT the only acceptable practice. My teachers were as likely wrong as right in many grammatical practices – the split infinitive being one of the most controversial. What is a good rule to get beginners thinking is merely stultifying and unnatural to professional writers!

So yes, we need to keep those grammatical rules and practices which maintain clarity, but we should be flexible when it comes to dynamic expression. Remember, we want our articles to be virally distributed throughout the Web, so we should write to attract and please our target audience, not those pedants who would probably disdain reading what we write anyway as ‘beneath’ them!

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23
Marina writes:

I’m not a native English writter and yes,I too had my fair share of typos–some so embarassing I almost stop writting for a month and took spelling and grammar seminars to improve my skills. Still when I had too much to do on a strict deadline, I just can’t help it. By the way I’m not sure if the author did this intentionally but on the 3rd line “speling” should be “spelling” lol

Comment provided April 11, 2014 at 4:48 AM

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