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The Terrible Curse of Seeing Typographical Errors

Written by Gary North on August 23, 2012

Inside the minds of some people there is a 8th-grade English teacher, trying to get out.

They see typos. Almost no one else does.

The typos bother them, grate at them, make their days miserable.

I know, because they write to me, begging me to quit making them.

I write 2,548 articles a year, minimum. Then I write at least one book. Sometimes two. Sometimes three.

Would-be English teachers write nothing. Instead, they read. And spot typos. And seethe.

I have two proofreaders for my GaryNorth.com articles (paid subscribers). For longer articles, I have three. They are all very good. But sometimes a typo evades them. The typo-spotters go into near cardiac arrest.

Their problem is this: few Web publishers will pay for this skill. The skill has only a few markets. The number of markets is shrinking. Conventional publishers are going out of business. They are facing competition from the Web: free! The Web tolerates more typos, because its volume is immense.

First, most readers do not see the typos. Second, those few who do see them really do not care. They will never read the piece again. They are after ideas, not closed quotation marks. Ideas motivate them. Or facts. They really do not care about typos. Why should they?

A Web article in a publication older than one issue is close to dead. But on sites like this one, the next issue is the next day.

Readers may post an article on Facebook. That keeps an article alive a little longer. But most articles are dead in a day.

So, be happy that typos do not bother you. Think of how miserable you would be. “So many typos, so little concern!”

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32 thoughts on “The Terrible Curse of Seeing Typographical Errors

  1. Simon Bolivar says:

    Geez, Gary, do you even have time to go to the Loo or is that where your office is?

  2. I am a writer myself, and when I see things like affect used as a noun or whom used in the accusative case, it jars my sensibilities and detracts from the content of the writing. It's like watching a political video and suddenly encountering the insertiion of a five-second clip from a Mickey Mouse cartoon. You would be uset if youpr auto mechanicc performed less than professionally. Writing is a profession just like auto mechanics, and it demands total familiarity with the mechanism on which one is operating, which in this case is the English language. Anything less is inexcusable.


  3. Don Walls says:

    Amusing article, Gary. Thanks.
    BTW, in the first line it should say "an" (not "a") 8th-grade English teacher. 🙂

  4. Come on… granted, typos stand out to me, like a sore thumb, but I don't get my panties in a wad over them. Gary just explained that he has two proofreaders (paid subscribers) who help him, sometimes three. And since we are all NOT perfect, sometimes errors get through. Even professional publishing companies have errors that manage to get through in the finished product! Yes, I agree with you, your mind suddenly has to deal with this incongruous error that stands out in 3D relief, but it's going to become a conscious effort on your part to let it go, and block it out, so that you can get the message in the article, book, movie, whatever.

  5. Why not hire one of the typo spotters to edit your articles? They'd probably do it for free!

  6. Roland Friestad says:

    I admit to spotting typos and I'm an 71 years old retired engineer – It normally doesn't bother me much except in my local newspaper where it is so blatantly obvious that articles and headlines are being written by folks who never even proofread their work – I attribute it to computer users who can't take the time to reread their own stuff but rely on spell checkers that, for instance, know that "led" and "lead" or "red" and "read" pass the spell check but not the logic test – Glad I married an English teacher –

  7. I work with a dozen people who use English as a second language. Except for one gentleman who is deep into basic R&D and thus doesn't expend energy upon it, all of them work very diligently to use very good English.

    I do not pay attention to their mistakes. I try to understand what they mean.

    In the same vein I see Dr. North's typos and try to understand what he means.

  8. Michale CrackMonkey says:

    This would be all well and good if the supposed proof readers actually did any good. I'm not a perfect writer and don't claim to be an expert in English grammar nor do I get so upset at typo's that I feel the need to comment about them but this article seems more like a justification for laziness. Your articles are not only often riddled with grammatical and spelling errors but often with content apparently intended to inflame by leaving out keys facts. These distortions put you on the same level as the liberal crybabies who dig for scraps and comments that can be pulled out of context so they can paint the entire right with a single brush. Perhaps if you spent less time complaining about those with affective grammar psychosis and more time getting solid facts to support your story lines your readers would be more comfortable using your articles in defense of conservative ideas.

  9. Oh, and for the record, they used to teach how to parse a sentence and grammar in the 7th grade. Our schools have been dumbed down to the lowest denominator, thus destroying our culture of excellence!

  10. This article is a sad attempt at justifying his poor writing ability. And having 2-3 proofreaders who fail to catch so many typos? They need to be fired.

  11. Confession time. I greatly enjoy Gary's articles, but the typos do drive me over the edge. I have those special eyes that see every mistake, and when I see one, bells and whistles really do go off inside my head! My English teachers would be proud. 😉 Typos and improper use of our language do detract from any piece of writing, and every measure should be taken to eliminate such errors.

  12. Seething Reader says:

    There are two mickey mouse clips in your comment.

  13. And Kruckeberg, is that a typo line three, "youpr"?

  14. AmericanIcon says:

    What ever happened to the concept of taking responsibility – for what you build, what you sell, or what you write? I don't claim to be an expert or a 'professional' writer, but I am definitely one of those offended by blatant errors in the written – or spoken – language. In the dozen or so years I was head moderator, the online forum I moderated earned a reputation as possibly the most literate on the web simply because whatever other moderators came and went, we placed quality over quantity – if your 'presentation' was sloppy, ranging from typos to using the wrong five-dollar word because it sounded 'impressive' ; if the quality of your writing was 'questionable' at best, then the quality of your 'facts' was also suspect: If you didn't care to ensure the quality of the presentation, what would the reader conclude about the quality of the research?

  15. I haven't complained before but the typos definitely bother me. They slow me down because they introduce ambiguity into the text. What is the writer really trying to say? I'd say pay your proofreaders more and hold them to a higher standard.

  16. 4. 🙂

  17. Just spotted a 5th.

  18. Also, why do you feel you need to publish 2,500+ articles per year? What happened to quality vs. quantity? Obviously the former is lacking, so I can only assume you think shoving out thousands of mediocre articles will keep you relevant.

  19. Most of the articles are on his homepage Garynorth.com.The spelling on those articles is generally without mistakes. The reason he writes so many articles is that subscribers pay for his article and his advice(forum) and he always writes 4 articles a day following a strict plan. Subcribers are rightly valued higher than free readers.

    I have only noticed the mistakes on this website and I agree that they can been annoying. The reason he doesn't is that this website is but one small part of what he does. Remember he is also working on 40 years magnum opus, an economic commentary on the bible. So I understand why he might not use too many ressources on this site even if it does annoy.

  20. Actually, Dr. North, your editors let quite a few typos through, but I don't complain. More interested in ideas

  21. Sharon Tomas says:

    I am not an English teacher, a proofreader, a professional writer or even a college graduate – but typos, incorrectly spelled or used words, etc. bother me. I really didn't get as good an education as was available at the other grade school on the other side of town. However, I read a lot and I worked at a newspaper for 13 years – mostly selling and or composing ads, although I did catch plenty of errors in stories. I am reading for the information and/or point of view contained in a story or book, not to try to figure out what the writer meant as I wade through the errors. I really appreciate text without errors and have been known to circle the offensive error, especially on front page stories, and mail it in to the local newspaper responsible for the error.

  22. "Affect" can be used as a noun, FWIW (e.g., "speech affect").

  23. jimpeel7734 says:

    Owed Two A Spell Chequer

    Eye halve a spelling chequer
    It came with my pea sea
    It plainly marques four my revue
    Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

    Eye strike a key and type a word
    And weight four it two say
    Weather eye am wrong oar write
    It shows me strait a weigh.
    As soon as a mist ache is maid
    It nose bee fore two long
    And eye can put the error rite
    Its rare lea ever wrong.

    Eye have run this poem threw it
    I am shore your pleased two no
    Its letter perfect awl the weigh
    My chequer tolled me sew.

    — Unknown

  24. jimpeel7734 says:






    Just shuckin' ya. 😉

  25. jimpeel7734 says:

    … three. And …

    S/B … three; and …

    Never start a sentence with a conjunction.


  26. Really, if you folks are that upset, join his growing army of volunteer proofreaders, or even subscribe for the privilege. Just imagine how much less stress you'll feel if you demonstrate your vast expertise by sending him e-mails about all the mistakes, and voila, your instructions are probably followed in glorious detail within a few minutes. You can brag to your friends.

    For anybody who's seen No Time For Sergeants, maybe you can get a job title like PLO. 😉

    Dr. North's typos used to bug me but I'm over it. Almost, anyway.

    In the 90s I was a volunteer proofreader on an independent news website. It ended up being a part-time paying job. They made an offer to move to another state, quitting my day job. I declined.

    Then we found out it was called a dot com boom …

  27. cedricward says:

    I agree totally. If Gary has any proofreaders, they are total failures.

  28. cedricward says:

    This is a total cop out for Gary.
    The misuse of language, grammar and spelling is rampant in our society to the point that many people think the misuse is proper English and then repeat it to the extent that the use of YOUR, YOU ARE, YOU'RE and THEN and THAN and many other simple words are being misused by far too many.
    This is nothing but the dumbing down of the population.
    And it happens even in the MSM.

    And don't even get me started on local TV newscasters.

    A NATION OF IDIOTS deserves what they get.
    And Gary North contributes to the mess with his constant misspellings.

  29. Michael Todd says:

    It kilz me dat you peeps are so down on G. Typos and ski grammer never hurt no one no how.

  30. Paul Allen says:

    From a more recent article: "They told him he could earn $0 an hour after he graduated. He makes $13.50 an hour."

    I realize you're a busy man and that nobody is perfect. I also realize that these articles are free and 'you get what you pay for', but as my granddad used to say, "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right". If you have time for snark, you have time for spellcheck.

  31. Bob Chester says:

    Proof read and learn how to use Spell Check you moron!

  32. clintdiggs says:

    Gary kicked me off his subscription site for offending him about typos and over abundant simple sentences. I'm just a farmer, but my work represents Christian stewardship. Just as a farmer should keep his fields clean of weeds, a writer should keep his documents free of errors. Poor grammar and typos are errors easily corrected, as voiced by many others here.