Service of Typos That Can Hurt

February 1st, 2018

Categories: Politics, Retail, Tattoo, Technology, Typos


Not all typos are equal, some being more high profile than others.

In spite of best efforts I’ve made typos here since I launched the blog in 2008: Readers Lucrezia, ASK and CG can tell you as they’ve rescued me [no surprise as they were a reporter and two magazine editors, respectively]. I am super careful with the work I do for clients. I re-read my material countless times if there is time. Some clients have eagle-eyes but I’m especially careful with the copy I use for those I detect don’t pay much attention to what they approve. I’m also good at catching errors in others’ copy.

White Out for the White House


Guests to this year’s State of the Union address received a ticket to the “State of the Uniom.” Printed by the Office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, this isn’t the first high profile typo on behalf of an administration for whom details don’t much matter.

Jason Silverstein at the New York Daily News reminded us of the Trump inauguration poster “No dream is too big, no challenge is to great…..”


In addition to countless errors by the First Tweeter, Silverstein listed a White House public schedule which spelled the British Prime Minister’s name three times “Teresa May,” instead of Theresa May. Silverstein took delight in noting that the Teresa version is the name of a porn star. The White House Snapchat account referred to “Secretary of Educatuon Betsy DeVos” and a press release about Israel and Palestine referred to “lasting peach.”

Staff is loosey goosey about spelling names: Schaub instead of Walter Shaub; John instead of Jon Huntsman; Human instead of Humane Society; Once instead of Air Force One.

Clean Up Your Act


At Home Depot last Saturday I pulled over a very nice associate to confirm what I saw on a sign printed on copy paper taped to a giant pile of 8-Pack double rolls of Bounty: “was $14.97,” in small type and in giant type “now 16.97.”

We joked about it —“oh good!” I said; “I get to pay $2 more!!”—and after speaking with his supervisor on the phone to report the goof he walked me to the cashier to get me the $14.97 price because the barcode was set at the higher amount. I was there late afternoon and wonder how many hours or days the sign was there before someone noticed!

Skin in the Game


According to, 14 percent of Americans—45 million—have at least one tattoo, the largest percentage falling in the 26 to 40 age range. A small one costs $45 on average and a large one, $150/hour. Annually, we spend $1,650,500,000.

The important statistics for this post are the percentage of people with tattoos who have covered up one with another–5 percent—and the 11 percent who are either getting or have already had one removed. The website doesn’t conjecture the reasons but my guess is either a girlfriend/boyfriend name change or an irritating typo.

In a skip though Google, there’s plenty of coverage of the latter. These are just a few of 38 posted in one site:

  • “Only God will juge me”
  • “You only life once”
  • “Believe Achive”
  • “My mom is my angle”

Have you made—or seen—glaring typos? Do you think that technology—auto-correct or overly complicated templates, for example—is to blame? Do you see more mistakes today than in the last 10+ years?


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14 Responses to “Service of Typos That Can Hurt”

  1. ASK Said:

    Typos? Nobody proofreads or copyedits anymore or hires people who do. Also, when was the last time spelling was taught in the classroom? I seem to remember that from the late 60s and early 70s, self-expression was considered more important. From my personal experience, even the intelligentsia gets it wrong. This is an issue that really makes me cranky! (And from some of your examples, not everyone is using “auto-correct” either…

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Now that we have GOOGLE, there’s no excuse for the WH or anyone else to misspell the name of a politician or anyone with any celebrity or a website. It takes only a second to check. I think nobody cares.

  3. CG Said:

    My blood boils every time I see another typo come out of the White House. Even as it relates to spelling, right and wrong don’t seem to matter to this administration. It’s shameful on every level.

    I’ve spotted at least one typo on almost every restaurant menu I’ve scanned over the past few years, even those at high-end places.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Restaurant menus! What next? I can forgive a family owned-overworked-understaffed business but have less patience for a big business with hot and cold running staff. ASK’s point about self expression trumping spelling and punctuation in schools seems to have had its way with words. They are no longer a priority nor will they be until someone gets in big trouble because of inaccuracy.

  5. Hank Goldman Said:

    Yes and yes.
    Trump: My 48 million viewers were “highest in history!”

    Obama: 52 Million
    Bush: 62 Million
    Clinton: 66 Million

    No. Not a typo. Just a simple lie.

    Sorry to have strayed from your excellent topic, of which there are many, many examples…Couldn’t help this one though! Thanks for the thought provoking blogs.

  6. EAM Said:

    I once worked for an arts organization where we sent out a donor letter via mail to hundreds of people. The phone number was wrong and was misdirected to the Whitney Museum. I told my boss that he should call the museum and explain the mix-up but he was too prideful to do so. If you make the mistake, I think taking accountability is the best way to move forward.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    He was LUCKY it was the Whitney Museum! Goodness knows what else it might have been….like you, I would have called the museum in a second and asked the marketing director if I could pay the receptionist to refer calls to my phone number. The director would probably say I couldn’t pay but not to worry in which case I’d have sent the receptionist a big box of chocolates or something special.

  8. jmbyington Said:


    Whatever a post triggers in your mind is legit. I agree that a mistake made by someone who will say or write whatever comes to mind whether or not true shares similar characteristics with a person whose job is marketing or PR–or tattoo design–who doesn’t take care with spelling in ticket copy, posters, communications of any kind such as price postings or tattoo art: Details are not a strong suit. I’m being polite of course. To be blunt, after a few such errors, [we all make mistakes] the person should be fired.

  9. Lucan Said:

    My skill in being able to produce an exceptionally large volume of typos, spelling, grammatical and other assorted and sundry writing errors as humanly possible per square inch in my prose is largely due to an as yet little understood genetic disorder, dyslexia. This has clearly colored my thinking, and I come at this from an oddball angle. However, I believe sloppy writing of any sort is not excusable and should not be permitted for any reason, but particularly half-baked ones like, “Fulfilling the need to communicate freely with one another justifies our tolerating a few mistakes.”

    I also believe the way to measure the quality and intellectual sophistication of any civilization is through having a good look at the quality of the prose it is producing. Sadly, we seem to be in an almost free-fall decline.

    How did this happen? Remember Sputnik? Kennedy, who had a little of that Trump “magic” of “You can say anything, they’ll believe you” in him – as did, of course, Hitler and Napoleon, Huey Long, Joe McCarthy, Charles De Gaulle and other charlatans, or sick men?, like them –, in his race to space, promised a man on the moon. He eventually got one, but to what useful purpose and at what cost?

    We taught more science, but cut back the humanities to the point where, now, history is almost forgotten, because it was never learned. Writing is a sloppy mess, but nobody reads slowly enough to notice, or care. And nobody remembers the name of the Vice President, not that he is memorable.

    That child of Science, the computer, didn’t help. It just aided and abated the decline and soon will be enabling itself to replace the human race.


  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Some with disabilities such as dyslexia roll up in a corner and give up, a pile of excuses not to persevere. Not you! You don’t stop. Your writing hasn’t suffered in fact, it’s often lyrical.

    I can’t knock the computer as much as you do. It and gadgets such as smartphones let me do far more than one person might have in the day. Editing a mistake in copy or correspondence takes a second. Communicating from most places I go is possible.

    We seem to do everything to extremes: Not enough science and then nothing but leading to the STEM initiative–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to which you refer I think. That focus is very practical but if people in any of these fields are unable to communicate clearly, what’s the point? Or put some of their talents in historical focus, what then? And what about those who would fail all STEM classes. Should we toss them out or send them to live in another country?

  11. Lucrezia Said:

    Lucrezia on Facebook: Be right over! What’s wrong w/the system? We are already clocked in some 24th in the world. Now with the our schools being led by a fancy dame with no experience/knowledge of public schools, we will undoubtedly drop even further. The choice of Jughead might have been a better one – at least he saw the interior of a classroom!

  12. Paula Said:

    Jeanne – Oh goodness, another topic we can talk for hours about! It is a constant battle for me not to get annoyed at constant typos and overall, very poor use of grammar and punctuation. I haven’t done the research but anecdotally I’d say the apostrophe is misused 8 times out of 10. I seriously want to hand out Strunk & White like candy these days!

    Now, the tattoo typos are the best. I have a friend who showed us a picture of her cousin’s tattoo, and one of my friends pointed out a typo amongst the oh-so-philosophical tattoo verbiage. We were dying laughing…couldn’t help it!

    I am a victim of typos myself (here and there) but try my hardest to double check even my emails. I’m probably too diligent about it, and I sometimes wonder if “proper communications” is just not a thing anymore. 😉

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    We also have a surgeon heading Housing and Urban Development who has no creds in that field who might have a hard time catching inaccuracies coming out of his dept for lack of familiarity and a fox in henhouse cabinet member at Health & Human Services–former big pharma exec–charged with lowering the price of Rx meds. It’s as though nobody is paying attention to typos or anything else. All quite sureal.

  14. jmbyington Said:


    You must all have been doubled over looking at the misspelled philosophical tattoos! I’m giggling and I’ve not seen the photo.

    As for staffers applying for jobs to report to you, I bet they get a page of copy filled with plurals and possessives–none marked with ‘s–and are asked to edit it.

    You make a good point about proper communications being out the window. I hope it’s a passing trend. But there may always be exceptions as there are with handwritten correspondence. A condolence letter can’t be typed. Period. Thank you notes shouldn’t be but if I have a lot to write I might give myself special dispensation to save the recipient’s sanity. My handwriting is that bad.

    As long as there are instructions, someone must write coherently, unless we’ll press a button on a box or package and a voice will tell us how to assemble something or what the side effects are of meds. I refuse to own Echo or to ask it or Siri questions. That really spooks me out. But there may come a time I’ll have to own one or remain in the dark.

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