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Curse of the Rogue Typo

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Average Everygirl #80, Average encounters the Election, Part 2 | Panel 1: Average and Special stand together. Prissy walks into frame carrying a rolled up poster. She says, "Read it and weep, losers! I just got my campaign posters for student body president, and they are a thing of beauty." | Panel 2: Super pleased with herself, Prissy says, "You may as well bow down to me now." Average and Special are looking at the unrolled poster, but the reader can only see the blank back of it. Special says, "It's very impressive. Good luck." | Panel 3: Prissy, with poster rolled up again, walks away beaming. Average says to Special, out of the corner of her mouth, "You didn't tell her about the typo on it, I see." Special says, "What typo?" | Panel 4: Average says, "I'm pretty sure there's supposed to an R in 'Prissy.'" Special, grinning, replies, "But it's so much more accurate without it."

Typos are the worst, and the rogue typo is the worst of the worst. You check and re-check, proofread and edit, send the copy out to third parties for proofreading, and when you finally think you’ve caught every errant mark, you hit “publish” feeling mostly confident.

And then, voila.

It magically appears.

The brain, in its helpful fabulosity, has filled in blanks and reordered letters to perfection, so that you swear up and down that typo was never there before, even though it always was.

Dear Brain,

This is not actually helpful. However, I won’t ask you to stop because I’m not sure what other functions this ability ties to, and I’d rather not mess with how my synapses fire. So, carry on, I guess…?

Love you lots,

Methods for Typo Hunting

Over the course of my dubious writing career, I have employed three methods for finding typos:

  1. Let the draft sit. Like, for 6 months, so that you can look at it with fresh-ish eyes. Obviously this does not work well for blog posts that have a twenty-minute turnaround between drafting and publishing. (I exaggerate. It’s more like ten minutes.)
  2. Give the draft to someone else to read. This also does not work well for blog posts, since I’m usually typing them late at night when I’m alone and friendless. (As opposed to earlier in the day when I’m also alone and friendless but might have a chance encounter with a passing family member. Hi, Mom!)
  3. Read the draft in a different font and format. The altered visual disrupts the brain’s auto-correct filter. This is my blog-post method, mostly because of the handy “preview” button. I hate changing fonts in longer documents for a multitude of reasons, but it’s supposed to help there too. (Maybe someday I’ll actually try it.)

None of these methods produces perfect results 100% of the time. Ninja-typos infiltrate where one least expects them, lurking in the shadows, waiting for their opportunity to humiliate. And humiliate they do. A single typo can strip away intellectual authority and rob one’s dignity in one fell swoop.

“Whoa. They flubbed that one tiny word in their argument? How can I trust anything they say if they’re not smart enough to catch that?”

But It’s Not Always Bad

Of course, as with any grammatical mistake, the severity of the offense is inversely proportional to how much we love the offender. It’s easy to brush off a friend’s typo with, “Oh, everyone makes mistakes from time to time,” but an adversary’s typo is cause for rampant mockery and scorn.

It almost makes one yearn for the bygone days of anything-goes Middle English spelling. Almost.

But the standard is here to stay, so the never-ending search for elusive typos shall continue.

Fight the good fight, my friends, and happy hunting.


4 thoughts on “Curse of the Rogue Typo”

  1. I tend to listen to my MS in text-to-speech software. That’s after I’ve sent it to my Kindle (you catch SO MUCH TYPO when you send to Kindle!) and after I’ve printed up a physical MS, and AFTER I’ve gone through the whole thing on Word.


    Even my amazing Mum misses one or two (most particularly when she’s enjoying the story 😀 )

    Also, I was reading a Trad-Pubbed book this morning, and found TWO incorrect homophones in the first 3rd of the book! No one will sneer at Harper Collins, though…

    1. *raises hand* I’ll sneer at Harper-Collins. I’m an equal-opportunity sneerer.

      But really, with how trad-pub houses tout themselves as being So Much Better, I expect them to be error-free to back that up. (But of course they never are, haha.)

      I haven’t ever tried the text-to-speech method. I’ll have to file that away as an option. Thanks!

  2. Yes–and, echoing the previous response, it’s always when I’m thoroughly into the story. (Your books are almost impossible to proofread, BTW.) Nonfiction is MUCH easier to check.
    My 12th-grade Composition teacher suggested reading the story from back to front to adequately scrambled the perception and catch the errors. It works, but I find myself getting caught up and reading normally.

    1. I’ve heard of the back-to-front method, but I can’t bring myself to try it. My brain wants things in order. The very idea of starting something at its end makes me want to curl up in a corner and cry. How do you do it, sentence by sentence? Paragraph by paragraph? Not word by word, I hope. *shudder*

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