Ode to the Typo

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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.

38 thoughts on “Ode to the Typo

  1. Haha! Great post. I’m nervous to respond now… what if I write a typo?!?

    During my learning-to-type days, I would constantly recommend Mavis Bacon’s program. It left folks feeling confused and hungry.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. So, I used to work in a medical office, and I SAVED the best typos in my desk drawer. For YEARS:
    When a woman was instructed to go off her birth control pill, she was advised(according to our humble transcriptionist) to use a “barium method of contraception.” o_O
    One patient presented with a “phallicular rash all over his body.”
    AND, for my entire summer after senior year of high school, I typed “Thnak you” at the end of documents. This is now my new favorite expletive. It sounds so aggressively ambiguous… 😎

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Love this post, Kathy — and I’m with you here, unfortunately. I’m so prone to typos—far too often on my powerpoints for class, where I’m trying to stress that people pay careful attention to their own writing! (And just so you know, I typed that word writing THREE times here: first as writng then as writingin, so….. consistency.)

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’ve worked as a proofreader before. One way to help not miss typos is to read a document backward word by word. Then you will be focused on the words and not get caught up in the sentence, and as a result you’ll be less likely to miss a mistake. This approach, of course, won’t help if you’ve wrongly typed a different complete word, one that could be in the manuscript. To deal with those have your computer read the story out loud. You’ll notice, I hope, if it says the wrong word.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. After reading through for sense the first time, we were taught in-house to turn a pencil upside down and place the eraser tip on each word as we read backward, one word at a time. Not kidding. (But it works!)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep, reading out loud is abut–I mean about–the only way to catch typos. But who’s going to read aloud all the emails they write before sending? (Had to retype about half the words in that sentence to get them right. I was NOT a star typing student back in junior high school.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Autocorrect! Don’t EVEN get me started! Just this morning, it changed the word “volunteers” to “cookies.” So if I have no volunteers for this project tomorrow…I guess I can sit down and console myself with cookies….

      Liked by 3 people

    2. OK, like right now! Just now! I thought Autocorrect was supposed to “learn” which words I use most often, and default to those. Now, which word do you think I use more often, “tomorrow,” or “tinnitus,” Hmmm? Stupid technology….

      Liked by 2 people

  6. My problem is with auto-correct changing the words that I meant to type and me not catching it — that can often be very embarrassing. The best proofreading advice I received when I had a job typing lots of correspondence was to read the document from the end to the beginning, where you see just the individual words and are not going with the flow of the document (if that makes sense!) ~

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Fab post, Kathy — and, unfortunately, I can totally relate! Having worked as a newspaper reporter for many years, I know how embarrassing it can be to leave the “L” out of public — especially in a headline! And spell check is no help if you type a real word that happens to be the wrong — oh, so very wrong — word!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I’m willing to take the blame for my typos, but I get really annoyed when autocorrect changes my word or typo to something totally inappropriate–and I don’t catch that before hitting send. Grrr.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Worse than that, is using voice-recognition software to dictate your email or text. It invariably tries to turn people’s names (i.e. Valenti) into common nouns (polenta, pimento, who knows?) 🙄

        Liked by 3 people

  9. Great post, Kathy! Made me laugh! And my father was just like your father. He made all of us – one daughter, two sons – learn to type, and bless him for that. I’d be lost without the skill. And what did we all get for graduation presents? That’s right, portable typewriters. (Yeah, we’re that old.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Great gift! I got a Magnavox VideoWriter, which was an old-timey word processor thing that used thermal fax paper. My dad still uses a typewriter–OR his Osborne word processor!

      I do wish I were a better/faster typist. I have a friend who’s a medical transcriptionist. She types so fast, I’m surprised her keyboard doesn’t catch fire!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is hilarious. Thank you! (I feel much better about my typos now.)

    Also: this post made me remember typing papers for college and how horrible it was when you needed to fix something with Wite-Out. (Those inevitable towering blobs!) Or if you’d already left the line and had to try and reposition the rolly thing back exactly where it was before, which was impossible, so your sentence would go slightly up or down in the correction area…then if you tried to blob over it AGAIN, it required both muscle and magic to strike through with the typewriter key. Argh!

    Sometimes it was simply a lost cause and you had to give up and retype the whole page.

    Which led to more typos.

    And spiraling on multiple levels.

    I’m so grateful for computers…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha! SAME. Of course now I’ve become too reliant on my computer. I don’t even bother trying to correctly type “the” and “and” because I know Word will auto-correct. That’s sure to bite me one day!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I was the first generation in our family to go to college and my father was appalled I hadn’t learned to type when I graduated. (He thought I had tunred ((no, turned)) Communist because I studied Russian.) So he paid for me to go to secretarial school that summer. Best idea ever! I learned to type really fast. And really bad. I consider my fingers dyslexic.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. My high school typing teacher Mrs. Dunlop warned me that, if I didn’t take the class more seriously, I was going to be very, very sorry. And I was, when I couldn’t get a job as an editorial assistant out of college (my roommate typed my papers for a buck a page, usually in the middle of the night as I handed her said pages). I distinctly remember typing “Associate Idiot” (rather than Associate Editor) in my signature. Many times. I am seriously not kidding, by the way.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s