As an editor, I have a sport of catching typos in professional media. It’s easier than you might think. I caught myriad typos when I worked at the newspaper [outside the newsroom], from an A8 typo to factual errors. There will usually be a typo within the first half of any book I read. Even the PDF of the play The Importance of Being Earnest had a typo in it. Now, let me justify myself.
My initial justifications were, well, I’m a one-man operation, not a production team.
Logically, that is true. I consider my biggest strength to be in narrative writing, where I can take an idea from X to Y, and bend it along the various paths it needs to go, until it gets to a satisfying conclusion. If, years or even days later, I find some of those meandries boring, then if I were to go back over these essays, I would edit and refine them, but because these essays serve the singular point of developing my writing craft, then the editing craft should, then, be developed differently.
That can be developed by being a careful reader and thinker.
When I find typos in printed media, I’m not looking over every line of text with my fattest red pen, waiting for my moment to take down the writers and editors of any media project, although, honestly, it might seem like that, and honestly still, it felt vindictively gratifying to get one over on professionally-paid editors whose jobs were focused directly on editing the newspaper when, here I was, some smooth-brained idiot that couldn’t figure out how to get their program to work – they were usually more patient with me, they at the newspaper were nicer than most of my other customers – catching typos they missed.
But then, we have to remember perfection versus the natures of our realities.
I would almost say that in order to not be confined by binary perfection, where a 0 will always be a 0 and a 1 will always be a 1, we will occasionally have instances where typos or mistakes will happen. Most will trivial. Recently in FF7, I made a typo. When I was naming my new party member, Cait Sith, in an indecisive moment, rather than naming it something closer to Cat sìth, I removed a letter. Rather than play through the rest of the game with a sunk cost fallacy, I quit out of the game to reply later, where I only trivially lost time. Since I saved the evidence for the screenshot above, was there even really a loss?
What about nontrivial typos or mistakes?
I won’t go on record here comparing a typo to any sort of major crime, so don’t go looking for comparisons here. This is a dicey ground to even approach directly. Instead, I think it might be more useful to write abstractly about how the newspaper handled these typo catches. In, poetically, what turned out to be my final editorial correction, I had asked one of the editors what they thought about me – a plebeian – reaching out to them – the patriarchal writers and editors, about typos in the paper.
She was happy to see the feedback.
That’s the sort of openness that should come from finding typos. Ideally, before they reach publication, so they can be edited out, but if they’re in print, then they can always be reprinted without that particular typo. For the grammatical typos, there was nothing more than a simple acknowledgment, confirmation, and update to the issue – especially online, there would be no need to inform the masses something like this – HEY EVERYONE, HEY, LOOK, HEY, HEY GUESS WHAT, I SPELLED A WORD WRONG HERE FIVE YEARS AGO, JUST LETTING YOU KNOW, THANKS – either in-line or as a footnote.
I did catch one factual error.
If I can write a public airing of grievances I expressed privately, it’s not that newspapers are dying and it’s not that “the youth” “aren’t reading newspapers” “anymore,” as the journalists and everyone at the paper talked about frequently. It’s that they weren’t particularly careful about modern topics. Their technology writer had reported that the Legend of Zelda series was twenty years old when it was closer to being thirty. Rather than their usual succinct “thanks,” there was a lengthier reply about how they’d research the issue, and then digitally published a correction note later that day. I still have the emails in my archives but it’s not worth digging out for this public airing of grievances that would conclude with two central points: report about the news that people young or old will want to buy and make sure it’s accurate.
I suppose almost all of the typos I’ve caught in publications have been vanity.
None of those typos have substantially changed the context of the publication. Between a quirky keyboard, change in sentence structure that wasn’t fully caught by the writer, editor, or computer-guided spellchecker, I’m sure I’ve made my fair share of typos. If I were to pop into Novel 01 and run it through my spellchecker, I might find some curious correction or two. Whether those are overly-vigorous keyboard entries, Cait Sits, or 20s instead of 30s, I know that as I work through my current health problem that may get resolved eventually soon or might turn into a lifelong issue, I don’t know, as I’ve forgiven myself for not having the energy to write thousands of words a day like I had once been able to, I should, too, be able to forgive myself if I see a little red line under words.
I don’t automatically correct everything with my writing.
I think this is where it’s important to know where your own boundaries are for how you want to live your life. Are you OK with the occasional typo? In casual conversation, I’m happy to see and give typos, because we’re not engaged in formal print communication.
If a team of editors allows a typo entry, even today… that’s a trophy!
|Quotes:  “Gwendolen. [Examines diary through her lorgnettte carefully.]” I would send an email to the address in the first page of the document to let them know, but it’s not really worth the time for me…|
|Sources: My personal and professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: Gameplay, then thinking about the gameplay. This should be considered more about forgiveness than anything overly critical. I don’t imagine that even the writer of that Zelda typo got much of a reprimanding, so if we catch our typos, let’s try to fix them.|
|Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Pictures: Screenshots of typos.|
|Written On: 2020 June 28 [7:29am to 8:26am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 June 28 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|