O Typo, I know ye well.
You are a constant companion.
A feared adversary.
The source of “send now” trepidation.
The raison d’etre of my delete key.
The typo and I go way back, all the way to tenth grade, the year my father insisted I learned to type.
My father is A Man of a Certain Generation who, as an attorney, had an office secretarial pool and a habit of calling any said secretary “my girl.”
He was enlightened about some things, though, including the need for self-sufficiency. Despite his pool of “girls” (insert a fresh eye roll), my father was a 65-word-per-minute typist who wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves— or roll a sheet of 20-pound bond into his IBM Selectric.
“Typing gives you freedom and independence, just like education does,” he told me. “That way you won’t have to count on other people, who will almost always let you down.” (His sunny optimism on the human race is a post for another day.)
Thus began lessons of quick brown foxes jumping over lazy brown dogs. And my long term relationship with the typo.
The typo and I grew close in college. As an English major in the days before computers, I tapped out essays about Swift and theses about Milton on an electric typewriter with the alacrity of an overly caffeinated insomniac and the accuracy of a rhesus monkey.
I made oodles of typos. I used gallons of Wite-Out. I’m not talking about mistakes like this little gem (of which I’ve made my fair share):
I’m talking about misplaced letters that change a word’s meaning. A favorite among my professors: my propensity for typing “Yeast” instead of “Yeats.”
Yeah. I know.
The word processor, and then the computer, improved the act of correcting, and yet still I persisted to typo. The typo and I grew closer when I began working as an advertising copywriter. After all, writing for a living means typing for a living—or in my case, typo-ing for a living.
Oh sure, I had the usual typos: adn instead of and and teh instead of the, but it’s the spectacular ones that really stand out.
Pubic relations instead of public relations. (My employer was NOT pleased.)
Sleeps rather than sleeves.
Exist not exit.
Not content to merely misspell and misuse words, I added wordos to my typo repertoire. Because #overachiever.
Now that I write books, my typo anxiety is through the roof. I have a crack team of editors who, thankfully, catch most of my typos. It’s the ones that got away that make me lose sleep.
I’m quite certain that more than a few typos run free in my books. I’m also pretty sure these errors won’t make my books more valuable like first editions with charming mistakes sought after by collectors. Or…maybe I’m wrong. Some of my typos are sure to be pretty fastening fascinating.
How about you, friends? Have you had any embarrassing typographic gaffes (tyogaffes?)? Have you seen some hilarious doozies? Do have typophobia?
Any tips and tricks for proofreading? For me, “proof” makes me want to reach for a similarly labeled drink, preferably with “100” in front of it.