Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's a typo and what's nto a typo?

"Dinning" is a typo. "Bed's" is not.

Many people seem to think that a typo ("typographical error") is any textual error in typing, printing or sign-making.

That's not the way it is.

A typo is an error in typing (or operating sign-making equipment) caused by tapping the wrong key.

  • It is a physical error usually caused by haste or clumsiness (often a "fat finger" that taps R instead of T or two keys at the same time -- very common on touch screens). Typos include leaving out a word or letter, repeating a word or letter, reversing the sequence of words or letters, leaving out a space, inserting an extra space, accidentally changing to bold or italic, etc.
  • It's not a mental error caused by ignorance of spelling, grammar or facts.
  • It's not a mechanical or electronic error caused by a problem with a computer, printer or program.
  • A typo is an error that you know is an error, not an error you think is correct.
People who are ignorant or stupid should blame their brains, not their fingers.

Everyone who types makes typographical errors.

In the last few years I’ve frequently and stupidly held down the shift key as I pressed the key to insert an apostrophe, and ended up inserting a quote mark.

I also often type “i nthe” instead of “in the” and “fro ma” instead of “from a.” I also tap the Caps Lock key a lot by accident, and the semi-colon instead of the apostrophe next door.

I solved part of the problem by removing the Caps Lock key from some of my keyboards.

While writing a recent book, I started tapping the “Page Down” key instead of “delete.”

I've also degenerated from being the world's fasted six-finger typist to a pretty-good two-finger typist. (I actually have 10 fingers -- but I don't use them all for typing.)

If I live long enough I’ll probably develop even more bad habits that I can’t control. I hope sloppy typing is not an early sign of dementia.
  • Some authors blame others for errors in their books. If an editor does not fix your error, it's still your error. One of the worst blame shifters I know of is an author who blamed a printing company for creating textual errors that were not in the PDF document she submitted for printing. Sorry, the world does not work that way.
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Street painting photo from Pie's photo from
Political sign photos from  Thanks.
Other sign pix and keyboard pic by Michael.