Typos and other reasons to double check everything

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“We take in sensory information and combine it with what we expect, and we extract meaning . . . When you’re proof reading, you are trying to trick your brain into pretending that it’s reading the thing for the first time . . . The reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see is competing with the version that exists in our heads.” – University of Sheffield Psychologist Tom Stafford.


Microsoft says the third most popular key on the keyboard is the backspace key. [Second is the letter “e” and first is the space bar, if you were curious!]

Homophones and Homonyms

Other things you don’t necessarily notice when you use spellcheck on your computer, is homophones. They don’t stand out as being wrong in the document/manuscript since it’s a real word. Why you need a second pair of eyes! Take for instance:

In Karen Harper’s 2010 historical fictional novel, The Queen’s Governess, a post-romance scene is made a bit confusing by the use of the word “wonton” (as in the Chinese dumpling) instead of “wanton” (which has more risqué implications). The sentence reads:

“In the weak light of dawn, I tugged on the gown and sleeves I’d discarded like a wonton last night to fall into John’s arms.” Harper meant to write “wanton,” a word which describes a promiscuous woman. Instead she wrote “wonton,” a word which describes a delicious dumpling. Nothing sexier than dumplings, right?

Homonyms are two words spelled the same but have different meanings. It can totally change the meaning of the sentence as well.

Other typos that cost the publisher a LOT of MONEY…

The first 7,000 copies of Pasta Bible by Lee Blaylock had to be reprinted in Australia after one recipe called for “salt and freshly ground black people” instead of “black pepper.” People were upset, and rightfully so. The BBC noted that the deeply offensive mistake cost Penguin $18,000 to fix, and The Guardian reported that, while sold editions would not be recalled, buyers could trade in a defective copy for a new one.

Adding a new word, perhaps?

The 1934 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary defined “dord” as meaning density (they meant to write “D or d” as a scientific abbreviation for the word density). But the editor misread the notation as “dord” and included it as a separate word, between “Dorcopsis” and “doré.”he mistake was discovered in 1939. Five years of a word that wasn’t a word!

The “Wicked” Bible

It turns out there is a 1631 edition of the King James Bible that gets the seventh commandment wrong. What should have read “Thou shalt not commit adultery” instead read “Thou shalt commit adultery,” This edition has since been dubbed the “Wicked Bible” for the slipup. Reportedly, only nine of these original editions exist today, as many were burned at the order of King Charles I.


The only way i can remember how to spell Mississippi is by singing it in my head, like I learned in elementary school. Didn’t you? Well, one newspaper forgot to go “M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I” before printing this headline. As shown above, the headline reads “M-I-S-S-I-P-P-I”, omitting the “S-S-I” that belongs in the middle. The real kicker? It’s a headline about literacy improvements.

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