|Photo by Jeff Deck|
Let’s get this part out of the way: I’m a terrible copyeditor. I can’t spot typos for the life of me, my comma usage is suspect, and I wouldn’t know a dangling modifier from a split infinitive.
As a result, I really don’t get very exercised when I spot typos online or in books. I figure, hey. It happens! We’re all busy, right?
But sometimes I feel distinctly in the minority. As Amazon reviews can attest, people get extremely outraged about finding typos in books. The grammar and typo police takes no prisoner.
So, You Tell Me: Do typos annoy you? If so, why?
A few don't bother me that much in a novel or longer work. It is only when they reach a certain frequency that I am bothered by them
In published fare, yes. They distract me from the reading. There are times when I'm reading a book on, really into it, forgetting that I'm even reading words while my imagination is running wild then — whoa, wait a minute — I AM reading a book, because the spacing is weird and they misspelled a word. Totally pulls me from the world that I've been revelling in. In a published book there is a level of quality that's expected, and if you're crap for copyediting, you should get someone to do it for you.
On a blog or a website, I'm not exactly sure what it's indicative of, but it's mildly annoying. I use three different browsers and they all have spell-check. Grammar issues don't necessarily bother me like spelling issues do. Everyone has their strengths, but if grammar ain't one of 'em, you'd better have a crazy interesting blog to make up for it.
In the comments section, nope. Okay, a little, but I tend the be more gracious with the masses than I do with the cat that decided he would litter his blog with misspelling and shoddy grammar. And I'm more gracious with the blog than I am with the book I paid for.
Ahahaha! And what a hypocrite I am! When I edited my comment, I left "on" when I deleted "my Kindle." That's another thing I'm great at… Typing fast, editing fast, and leaving the typos that drive me bananas. :
R.D. Allen says
Depends on how good the writing is. Usually, typos are the last straw to me, and not as much a first offense.
Once, I found a typo in a J.R.R. Tolkien book. I felt so cool for finding it. >:D
Anne R. Allen says
In a blogpost–not a lot. In comments–not a bit. In a book I paid money for–oh yeah.
I spend my life combing my work and others' for typos, so I notice them more than most people, and I admit that makes me picky. A few are inevitable, of course. But when I find a whole bunch–especially if they're possible grammar mistakes like misplaced apostrophes, I feel I'm not in the hands of a professional, and I won't read on.
Robert Carraher says
I am terrible at copy editing/proofing my own stuff. I'll write a blog post and leave it over night after a couple of rereads. then reread it for mistakes (and content) the next day. then have breakfast, coffee, check email, check FB, reread it again for errors then publish it. And 5 minutes after it is up, I find an error or two or three. Fix it with Live Writer then reread it again during the day and find more errors, fix them and leave it alone. before the day is out, a friend will email with yet another error I still haven't caught. For my own writing for publication, not blogs, I use an editor and she is pretty damn good.
McKenzie McCann says
I am bothered by typos in my own work more than other people's. If I see one (not in a book) I just mark it and keep going. Still, in published works it does bother me. A published piece of writing is the very best possible version of itself, and the best version should not have missing periods.
Marcia Richards says
They do annoy because, they are distracting to a reader. The story isflowing and you're enjoying it, then, Wham!, the flow is interrupted by a misspelled word or poor grammar. Besides, there is no excuse for it. If you aren't good at proofreading and editing or, you were never adept at spelling and grammar, get someone to help you. In a book you intend to sell, it's a matter of responsibility to make sure it's as perfect as can be for your reader.
They don't annoy me per say, but I find they are some of the first things I notice. Going over readings in my writers group, they're the one thing that jumps out at me. I tend to ignore them in novels and such, I'm too into the story, but in blog posts and the like I notice them.
It entirely depends. If I'm reading someone's personal blog, or I'm reading a comment, I usually will ignore errors. However, errors in a news report pretty much send me over the edge. If the writing is that sloppy, how can I trust the supposed "facts" in the story?
Cyndy Aleo says
Copy editor by day. On the first read of a book? Odds are, I'm so engrossed in the story I don't see them. On re-read? If it's one or two, it's expected. I love and respect my copy editor sisters and brothers and I know we are all human and don't catch everything. But egregious errata that make it obvious a book was rushed to print? Yes, they bother me a lot, especially in a NYT bestseller and super-especially when it's a sequel.
Typos drive me absolutely nuts. Isn't someone supposed to be proofing? We writers go over our manuscripts so many times that we get blind to just about everything; I feel like once the writer goes blind, it's the editor's tern…I mean, turn.
I can remember fearfully reading my author's copy, praying I wouldn't find a typo.
Nancy Lauzon says
Yes, typos bother me. I would expect them to bother most writers. All we have to create our masterpieces (ahem … or whatever) are words. We should strive for a perfect product.
I mean, if you were a cabinet maker who used crooked pieces of wood to build cupboards, your customers wouldn't be impressed.
An artist should take pride in their work.
Just one typo wouldn't bother me but more than that would make me feel that the writing is shoddy and unprofessional.. If I were in a bookstore I probably would not buy that piece of work..
Yes, they are more than annoying. Typos show a lack of care for the reader. Typos used to be uncommon in books, but in the past few years I notice more and more typos in books from the publishing houses. Due to economic factors in the publishing industry, editors are spending less time with the books – and it shows. And self-published/Indie books – don't get me started! Whether a book is published by a major house or an individual, a book free of typos shows care for the reader.
Yes, typos do bug me. They pull me out of the story, and often create ambiguity or confusion.
I also hate obvious mistakes where someone has relied on Spellchecker – writing is a craft. How would you feel if the plumber left leaking pipes when he did a job?
You can learn this stuff – it just takes effort, and pride in what you are presenting.
Having said that, errors will always sneak through!
Meh. I don't mind typos so long as I only run into one during a reading session. If I notice a pattern, this is what irritates me.
Only my own , everyone else's typo's are cute and cuddly . Punctuation ? The less I write about it , the less I have to ( TRY and ) use it . Psstt-It's the reason I always post anonymously .
Surely there is a difference between typos (typing errors)and spelling/grammar errors. Writers should be proud of their craft and take time to check their (not 'there'!) spelling. It's not difficult, after all. Did no-one learn these basics in infants' school?
I feel insulted when such lazy writing gets passed by several layers of agents, editors etc. But beware -Spellchecker is a gigantic trap – you have to have a razor-like brain to use it.It is also more American than English, even with the 'preference'switched on.
Frank Cote says
If we're talking one or two here and there, typos do not bother me too much.
If we're talking one or two a page, or worse a paragraph, then forget it. Typos take me out of the story.
It's worse when the typos messes with the sentence structure. If I have to focus on what the hell the sentence I'm reading was supposed to be, I'm no longer enjoying the story.
The edition I have of Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince series is like that and if the story wasn't so enjoyable I would have never read it all the way through.
Christopher David Petersen says
Only in someone else's work… LOL.
Christopher David Petersen
It depends. If there are a few, it doesn't bother me too much, but if the writing is riddled with them, then I get annoyed.
Funny timing. I just wrote a blog post about predictions for the future of books (https://bit.ly/jxGiEY) and #18 is that eventually we'll all care less about typos. I know we think it should be important, but it shouldn't be a fetish, either.
Typos don't bother me if it's just a few. I just stumble and carry on. But if it's too many, it becomes annoying.
What really bothers me is the misuse of words or just using made up words. Sarah Palin's famous for that. Her use of "refudiate" is obnoxious (as is her defence of its usage by likening herself to Shakespeare no less). As people use acronyms more and more through texting and Twitter, the language (and all that goes with it) suffer.
Yes. I realize that the majority of the English speaking world doesn't care much about spelling or grammar so long as their meaning comes through, but I do. I remember reading 1984's newspeak with horror.
For me, these things are like driving along smoothly, then hitting a pothole so big the jolt throws you right out of the car. When I'm reading a novel, the whole suspension of disbelief comes crashing down. In non-fiction, I'm distracted from the material by thoughts like, "look what they did there," and "how much can they know about the subject when they can't even bother to express themselves correctly?"
I know it makes me a snob, and I feel bad about that. I like to believe that it's an unintentional quirk, like acrophobia. It's not my fault I react this way, it's just built into my nature.
Nope. If anything typos and problem mistakes is kind of exciting. It reminds me that the people writing and editing and publishing are human as well.
Did you mean 'exorcized'?
Carlye Knight says
They bug the living hell out of me, especially in published works and on business signs. I commit plenty of them myself, so it's probably the universe's way of keeping my snobbery in check. What I CANNOT forgive, though, are misused/abused quotation marks and apostrophes. Kill them with a blowtorch and gasoline!
I'd say typos are fun to find. Excessive typos are annoying because they can change the meaning of the sentence ("they cat" as opposed to "their cat" for instance). But overall I enjoy spotting a little mistake, since it means that, as a reader, I'm becoming perceptive enough to notice them.
By the way, I'm a new reader and love your blog!
Typos bother me in every context but most especially in published books. I believe a publishing house ought to produce a perfect product. Just what I expect.
Renee G says
Yes, typos bother me, especially in printed items, like books, magazines, menus, etc. If you're writing an email or posting a comment on a blog that, to me, falls into your "Hey, we're all busy, right?" category. But, print material is supposed to represent a professional standard. It's like saying a plumber who leaves your pipes leaky is should be forgiven because he's busy. No, he's supposed to do his job professionally. As an aspiring author, it annoys me because I am constantly told that my work should be nearly flawless before even submitting. So, if I were to see tons of typos in a published book that would really frost my cake! (I'm talking about repeated and glaringly obvious mistakes, not an occasional typo.)
Tom Bentley says
Typos are the searing trident of Satan! Well, not really, but it does seem that folks get pretty exercised about them. I'm a copyeditor, and wrote a recent post on Men With Pens about editing, and it was funny how many people commented about their disdain of typos, and—you guessed it—had typos in their post. Including, bah-da-bing, me.
They do cause me to wince, both for a print piece and a blog post, and do seem to undermine my feeling of full confidence in the writer—even though as an editor, I know how easy it is to make an error (and how there are so many ways to make them).
Typos, it seems, will always be with us, no matter our efforts to cleanse…
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihngis that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae.
Loree Huebner says
In a book, yes.
Deniz Bevan says
Oh my yes! They annoy me no end. They annoy me in published books because if only they'd hired me as a copy editor, I would have caught 'em; they annoy me in newspapers because they're so jarring; they annoy me in people's emails and status updates cos I despair for the state of the education system…
(word verification: bedisms (!))
Typos in published books annoy the heck out of me. To me it says that someone didn't do a proper job, and the person to blame is the one who proofread it last. In magazines and newspapers and the likes, I feel a typo is miniscule. But in published books, it ought to be a complete taboo. Someone in the process of publishing obviously doesn't care about the story, or the readers. It reflects badly on SOMEONE at the end of the day. That's just my opinion.
And my answer is YES! they irritate me no end in a published book. Someone's blog or email or chat, I notice them but I move on. Unnless the blog is a professional one, then it falls back into the irritated as hell category.
Blogs, emails, and chats aren't professional and, as you said, done off the cuff. I understand that and I accept and move on. But a published book or article or newspaper is a professional thing and to have misspellings, typos, incorrect/missing punctuation is not only unprofessional but it is disrespectful of one's audience/readership.
Now, having said that, I don't blame the author so much as I blame the editors and copyeditors for sloppy workmanship. And when I write my reviews and see that, you're darn tooting, I call 'em out. Although, I contact the author privately and point them out and let him/her deal with the publisher.
They're sloppy, unprofessional, and disrespectful. And completely unacceptable in published works.
A professionally published book, especially one from an established author with the resources to have a competent editor and a competent proofreader, should not have egregious errors. Lines like "You wreak of human," (paranormal fantasy book with lycanthropes; don't remember specifically which, but I do remember the line) are unacceptable.
Writing is a skill, and a part of that skill is word choice (which is often chalked up to 'typos' as with the example above). Not all great storytellers are great proofreaders – but I bet they know a methodical person who knows the rules of grammar, and if not, there are professional services. Spelling matters, punctuation can completely change the meaning of a sentence, and as someone else mentioned, the confusion created by mistakes simply gets in the way of the story, or, if there enough of them, makes it impossible to read. Having an idea for a plot and compelling characters – even superb ones – isn't sufficient if one wants to be a competent writer.