A Typo Hear, a Typo Their – Typo, Typo, Everywhere

Is it just me or am I starting to find typos more frequently than ever before? I’m not a copy-editor or a proofreader, so I don’t go looking for them. Unfortunately they find me.

My wife finds them regularly in the sports section of our daily newspaper (The Arizona Republic owned by the same people who own USA Today). It is embarrassing. I suspect budget cuts eliminated an extra set of eyes before going to press.

Last week I found one on someone’s business card…in their email address. (It changed the spelling of their name from a female name to a masculine name!)

I get it. “Fat Finger” typing on your phone, in concert with the nefarious “auto-complete” can make for some very odd emails or texts.

But what about your book proposal? I received one the other day that said, “I going to use this in a blob.”  Another proposal pitched a book titled “8 Secrete Ways to Unleash….”

I’m glad those two weren’t for the same book. I don’t even want to think about a secreted blob… Especially eight of them.

A Couple Tips

Don’t be in a hurry. If it takes a few extra days to make sure everything is correct, it’s okay.

Read your work out loud. Even better, have someone else read it out loud to you.

Consider hiring a professional. In The Christian Writers Market Guide there are 70 pages of freelance editors who want to serve you.


Typos are part and parcel of the publishing experience. Recently one of our clients found 31 typos in her published book. After her multiple readings, after the substantive edit, after the copy edit, and after the proofreader. It happens. What we don’t know is how many they caught!

We have another client who found over 150 errors in her Advance Reader Copy (ARC). Apparently the editor pulled the wrong file to send to the typesetter and that version was printed and sent out to reviewers. Fortunately all were caught before the final edition went to press.

If we see them in your proposal we do tend to look past it. It is a “red” check mark in the mind, but we can be a forgiving lot. (See Tamela’s post on typos here) But it is better if we don’t find them.

If you are an indie author and typos are found you know you can update your ebook file fairly quickly. The print edition can be fixed as well. If you use print-on-demand uploading the new file will fix it all immediately. If you have remaining inventory, you have to decide if the typo(s) are egregious enough to mulch that inventory or try and sell them first before reprinting. I know of a major publisher that destroyed and reprinted an entire print run when a typo was found in the title, on the spine of the printed book.





33 Responses to A Typo Hear, a Typo Their – Typo, Typo, Everywhere

  1. Brennan McPherson May 22, 2017 at 3:12 am #

    I used to think it was outrageous to find typos in professional publications. Then I remembered that we’re human beings, and it started making a bit more sense. . . Still laughing about, “I going to use this in a blob,” though. 🙂

  2. Janine Rosche May 22, 2017 at 4:17 am #

    I thought I wanted to be a writer until I discovered the profession, Scuba Diva!

  3. Rebekah Dorris May 22, 2017 at 4:32 am #

    Nice title! Reminds me of the meme with Snoopy hugging a downcast Charlie Brown. “When comforting a grammar Nazi, I always say softly, ‘There, their, they’re'”

  4. Judith Robl May 22, 2017 at 5:17 am #

    There are some of us who edit privately and are not listed in the market guide.

    I work 25 hours a week in our local print shop. We print many things.

    However finding the typo 969 instead of 696 on an entire business stationery set – cards, letterheads, etc. was a little disconcerting. Especially since it was a post office box number.

    Two in our office had proofed and two in their office had proofed. OUCH!

    When I first went to work in this print shop (30+ years ago) we had a printed version of this little poem attached to the side of the file cabinet:


  5. Diana Harkness May 22, 2017 at 5:36 am #

    I find typos all the time and comment on them when I find them in a newspaper, local TV news (find so many there that they make me laugh), or other professional publication because they may be able to find them in the future or even correct online copy. I used a downloadable reader (Ivona Reader) for my manuscript and that was more helpful than reading aloud because doing it by myself caused me to miss some of the same words because my eye slipped over them. However, hearing another voice that read without any emotion helped immensely. And the errors I discovered that way were common enough that I could do a search and replace for them in my document. However homonyms are a problem with a verbal reader and that may take another set of eyes.

  6. Damon J. Gray May 22, 2017 at 5:41 am #

    No, Steve, it is not just you, or even just you and your wife. Typos and grammatical missteps are everywhere, but some are more egregious than others. And some are just hilarious – like the time I sent a text to my wife, but ended up fat-fingering that and calling her my “wide.” That did not go over well.

    Where I find it disturbing is when these errors show up in professional publications like newspapers, magazines, advertisements, resumes, and more. One of the most striking in recent memory involved a smug blog post by a literary agent (I’ll not name) who was excoriating his readers for not proofreading their submissions. without even trying, I noted seven spelling and grammatical errors in the opening two paragraphs. – seven – in a blog post that was criticizing such errors. It was a “big-sigh” moment.

  7. Connie Almony May 22, 2017 at 5:54 am #

    As an indie author, I get dinged on these in reviews at times. Yes, I’ve had typos even after crit partners, editors, proofers, grammarly, and out-loud read throughs. I think sometimes readers are looking for them just cuz I’m indie (yes, I know ‘cuz’ isn’t a real word). But I have not read a book in the last several years that didn’t have a typo–sometimes an egregious one! I mentioned this to an avid-reader friend of my daughter. She came to my house the next day with a 3×5 card listing all the typos she’d found in a book she was reading for her GT English class. They were crazy-bad!
    As professionals, we should always be in the business of improving and perfecting our books. As Christians, we are called to do things as if they were for God. However, I do not judge a whole work on its typos unless there are so many it feels the author didn’t care about the reader at all–and I’ve seen some like that.
    Though I think some of the lax editing comes from the faster pace of publishing today, I also wonder if some is due to an over-reliance on proofing software. Sometimes you just need to read through and look at each word.

    • Carol Ashby May 22, 2017 at 6:54 am #

      I agree about the spellcheck/grammar function in Word, Connie. It frequently suggests something that is wrong, especially with comma placement.

      I’d say you ALWAYS need to read through, dragging a cursor or pencil along beneath each word to make sure your eyes don’t skip over something that is missing. Mine do because I chunk big-time when I read, so my brain fills in missing words if I don’t drag something along to make me look at every one.

  8. Karen Saari May 22, 2017 at 6:25 am #

    Poor Rich Howard. I’ll bet he is called ‘Scuba Diva’ to this day!

    Tyo’s jump out at me, they always have. I love finding them on signs. We are going on vacation in a week, I think I’ll start a little list!

  9. Bill Hendricks May 22, 2017 at 6:25 am #

    Occasionally I find typos even in publications printed well before autocorrect. For example, I’ve come across one or two typos in my New American Standard Bible that was probably printed in the 1980s. And of course, everyone knows of The Wicked Bible, a King James version of the Bible published in 1631. In the Ten Commandments, the word “not” was left out of, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” leaving it to read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Oops!

  10. Karen Saari May 22, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    And look at that. I did my own typo. THEY do not jump out at me, only the ones other people do. 🙂

  11. Deanna Fugett May 22, 2017 at 6:37 am #

    Scuba Diva!!!! I’m laughing so hard!!

  12. Carol Ashby May 22, 2017 at 6:48 am #

    As an indie, it’s up to me to strive for “perfection” before I launch a book. I just launched my second in Kindle last Friday and will launch the hardcopy before Wednesday and maybe today if the paperback proof copy doesn’t come in today’s mail and I decide digital proofing is sufficient. It would have been with my first.

    It is possible to replace a file at Amazon. I’ve done that when I changed the title of the second three months after I published the first and needed to fix the title in the back matter of the one in market. With an e-book, the old version stays on sale until the new file is approved. Up to 72 hours is quoted, but it was more like 6. The paperback was removed from the market for the time between when I submitted the new file and when it was approved. Again, up to 72 hours is quoted, but in practice it took between 12 and 24 (I was sleeping and not checking).

    Not good to have the paperback offering disappear from my Amazon sales page for a few hours! I am selling more than 60 e-books for every paperback now, so I didn’t lose huge numbers of sales, but still…not good.

    It pays to be paranoid about typos before the release and do that extra full read-through (or two) just before you launch. I have six sets of experienced eyes reading the final manuscript after I’ve edited it at least 7 times myself, but I’ve still found a couple of typos in that final read-through of a >100K-word book.

  13. Bill Hendricks May 22, 2017 at 6:57 am #

    I concur with Carol’s narrative. I suspect that oftentimes when e-books get created, someone has an optical character recognition program read through the copy and turn it into keystrokes. That opens the door to lots of errors—that then go on-line. I downloaded a copy of Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy a couple of years ago, and it has errors and typos on just about every third page. The same could be said for other classics I’ve gotten off Amazon. Which is terrible, because typos tend to make a reader think poorly of the author. I mean, the impression is that if someone can’t spell even properly or use the right word, then how much can they really know about their purported area of expertise?

  14. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser May 22, 2017 at 7:11 am #

    I had to borrow my wife’s phone for a bit while between ISPs, and it learned a new auto-correct vocabulary.

    Whereupon she found herself organizing a business lunch with seppuku tables rather than separate tables.

    • Carol Ashby May 22, 2017 at 8:13 am #

      Funny! Did it also switch to your King’s English spelling of honour and co!our?

  15. Janet Ann Collins May 22, 2017 at 7:18 am #

    Spell check drives me crazy! It constantly changes words to others that mean something entirely different than what I intended to say.

  16. Bob May 22, 2017 at 7:59 am #

    Your commentary is so true. I’ve heard some schools are teaching students to spell words phonetically, not how they are actually spelled. Is this a problem we’ll see on a larger scale in the coming years?

  17. Glenda May 22, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Auto-correct and fingers-flying-reply-texts aside, what a great reminder to edit, edit, edit! Thank you. 🙂

  18. Edward Lane May 22, 2017 at 8:59 am #

    Happy birthday, Dead husband is a classic! I’ve started noticing the typos on crawls across the bottom of my TV screen for local and national news. I think it is part of a cultural change which devalues many of the values such as cursive writing. Who will be left to read the Constitution to the millenials in20 years? Thank you for sharing.

    • Carol Ashby May 22, 2017 at 10:39 am #

      The kids who went to private Christian schools. They still teach cursive as well as many other “outdated” skills and values for living a better life. Probably the homeschooled as well.

  19. Melissa Henderson May 22, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    A wonderful reminder to slow down before we hit “send”.

  20. JPC Allen May 22, 2017 at 10:02 am #

    I like some old mystery short stories by Melville Davisson Post. When I found out that West Virginia University Press was reprinting a collection of them, I was glad to buy a new copy.
    Typos litter the book. I couldn’t believe a university press would do such a bad job.

  21. Mary Hunt May 22, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    So funny, Steve. Enjoyed that.

  22. Dave Peever May 22, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

    When I completed my book I had it proofread for spelling, grammar, and basic sentence structure issues by my wife. I then gave it to 2 other people to make sure I hadn’t made any theological leaps and had conveyed the topic in an easy to understand fashion. After that, I used the manuscript as a study text with a test group to see if it addressed the intended target audience. Everyone who received a copy of the manuscript was asked to report any errors they found. Once that was completed I gave a copy to my mother who found mistakes after all these people had read it. If you want to avoid thinking too highly of your spelling and grammar abilities and your mother is anything like mine, let her read it!

  23. Robin E. Mason May 22, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    is it wrong i take “wicked glee” when i see those typos in trad pubbed books??? years ago, before indie came on the horizon, it gave me great relief to know that the big authors, the professional ones made the same typo of mistakes I did! (see that i did there???)

  24. Roy Proctor May 22, 2017 at 8:44 pm #

    My high school English composition teacher told the following concerning a coma. A man faced a court whether or not he should be sent to Siberia. The decision read, “Pardon impossible, to be sent to Siberia. The typist decided to intervene. She typed, “Pardon, impossible to be sent to Siberia.

    • Melodie May 24, 2017 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks for sharing that comma issue about Siberia. I am an English teacher, and I will be using that next school year!

  25. Sheri Dean Parmelee May 23, 2017 at 11:52 am #

    Steve, when my 400-page dissertation was published, it contained 12 typos. That my $2 per page proofreader did not catch…….(neither did I- by the time my dissertation was ready to publish, I was so sick of looking at it that I took the proofreader’s word for it that she had caught everything. It turned out that some of the typos were her corrections…….go figure.

  26. ann campbell May 24, 2017 at 7:53 am #

    Typos drive me crazy too, but they happened even before the computers took over. When writing a history exam in high school many years ago, I ‘wrote’ that a certain city had been taken over by the ‘virgins’, instead of the Virginians! The teacher had us correcting each other’s papers, and the young guy correcting mine nearly died laughing!

  27. Melodie May 24, 2017 at 7:23 pm #

    Reading aloud does help, but I often hear myself still saying what I think is written! The only thing that works better is to read it like a robot by enunciatimg every syllable. You will catch missing words and homophone mix-ups. I tell my 7th grade students to go to the wall and read their drafts like a robot. They come back admitting they found errors!

  28. Vivian October 21, 2018 at 6:10 pm #

    I recently sent a birthday gift and card to my new boyfriend . A day after he calls to thank me for same but pointed out a typo I made on the birthday card.. REAR instead of RARE.

    His exact words were & I quote ” I needed to correct you on the spelling of the word ****”.

    I honestly didn’t think it was necessary or that big of a deal and thought it was petty and all..or did I over react..

    All the same, I thanked him for the correction ..

    Wait, am I overacting?

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