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That's what Muphry's [sic] Law is for:

I used to work with a guy who said that every book has to have a typo -- just like the deliberate flaw woven into every Persian rug, we shouldn't compete with the perfection of Allah. Or something like that.

Stan Carey

Let him or her who is without typo make the first disproportionately triumphant sneer.


Translators can be guilty of the "shock and indignation" routine too. With the added advantage that the mistakes can be hysterically funny. I sometimes sit at the computer crying with laughter over the howlers I find (maybe that's where they got the name from). My family have - sort of - got used to it by now.

Anyway, other translators' mistakes are one of the perks of the job.

Scotti Cohn

I have to laugh because I am both a copyeditor and an author. I recently attended a conference session in which the author-speaker tried to get everybody to agree that the copyeditor is the bane of an author's existence. Naturally, I don't see it that way at all. I usually understand exactly what the copyeditor is doing and almost always appreciate it.

And I'm well aware that I make mistakes both as an author and as a copyeditor!


Well, I do have a couple of crazy stories from my copy editing days (including a lady who tried to edit the command syntax in a software manual and cried "...but it's ungrammatical!" when I tried to stop her). Overall, though, copy editors strike me as an understanding and tolerant bunch of people.


Fantastic post.

I have to wonder whether this post was inspired by the "Love, Your Copyeditor" blog. You don't have to admit it if true.

I'll join the chorus: Just last month I allowed the word Cleveland to run without its second e. Oh, and it was in a headline. I was too busy fussing over state abbreviations in nearby photo captions to notice. On at least one occasion during proofing I thought to myself, "[People other than me] need to get it together." And then: Clevland.

I mess up all the time!


Yes, the best copy editors know that humility comes with experience (the experience of seeing all your own mistakes). We all make mistakes -- expect it and double-check everything. What really gets me is non-editors who try to teach the editor about grammar or style!


Thank God for a copy editor or my catalog would have gone out with the phrase "with the assistance of a stiff member" instead of "staff member." All hail the copy editor.


This made me laugh, because I have recently realized that in general, I am not a perfectionist AT ALL. Nor would anyone who walked into my office right now (or, to tell the truth, ever) describe me as someone who likes things tidy. But the people I work with might be surprised to hear about the non-perfectionism thing. And do I get the urge to correct menus? Well, yeah.


As an author, I used to think I had a wonderful command of the English language. Then I was copy edited!

Riley M. Frank

"Till" is about as bad a grammar error as confusing "their" and "they're", "your" and "you're"; it's one thing to be less than perfect, but to not know the difference between "till" and "until" is infuriating to me. You're supposed to be a professional writer, and you don't know your own language. When I was an English major, I got all kinds of attitude from journalism students who thought that they didn't need "no stinkin' grammar, that's what copy editors are for." Well, no wonder newspapers are going out of business when their writers don't have a basic understanding of English and have to hire three people to do the work of one. When I was copywriter, I wrote, copy-edited and edited my own projects and was held to a very high standard.


Dogg you might want to step back on till. Here's what Bryan Garner has to say: "Till is, like 'until,' a bona fide preposition and conjunction. though less formal than until, till is neither colloquial nor substnadard...If a form deserves a sic, it's the incorrect 'til. Worse yet is 'till, which is abominable."

Look at that: It took two of us to do the work of one. Embrace your fallibility, my friend. It will set you free.


Riley, where are you getting your information? I have not seen a single reputable source (Garner, Bernstein, Fowler, Merriam-Webster, American Heritage) support this idea.


Oooooh yes.

Where I work, we have a saying: There's no such thing as a perfect book. (We actually work on journals, not books, but you know what I mean.) And I can about guarantee that any time I open a freshly printed issue, just delivered by someone from Circulation, the one page I look at will have a typo on it. I therefore stopped doing that many years ago. Now I just riffle the pages, smell the fresh ink, and put the issue tidily in its place on my shelf.

Kfox3, thank you for today's best laugh! That's even better than my personal best -- "commercial felations".

I doubt I've ever turned in a perfectly copy-edited MS, and I *know* I make dreadful errors when I'm writing -- errors I would spot in an instant in someone else's work. People who think they catch absolutely everything really get up my nose, TBH.


Thanks, I mess up all the time and now factor that in time wise;)

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