Service of a Typo Squad

June 30th, 2009

Categories: Communications, Education, Newspapers, Quality Control, Speaking, Training, Writing

The reaction was brisk to our June 17 post, “Service of Communications Experts,” so we gave a shout out for more typos, grammatical and spoken errors. Thanks to our virtual typo squad!

It’s a relief to see that people care about what they hear, read and write which leads to the question: Why have those we’ve depended on to maintain top standards given up?

We’ll start with a few of the mistakes we saw. On June 25, in the lead of an article on the Madoff scandal, in the print version of a major paper, there was one incorrect and one missing word–imagine, in the first sentence! “A majority of more than 100 foundations that lost 30 percent to all of their assets in the Madoff scandal had four or fewer board members, according ____ an analysis by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy…..”

Thomas M, a writer, found a typo in a headline on the front page of this paper’s national edition: “Couple’s Capital Ties Said to Veil Spying for Cuba.”  Thomas writes from Philadelphia: “I believe when referring to the US Capitol –it’s CapitOl. No?”

Manhattan-based special events guru BEK found a Craigslist classified listing, “writter needed.” I’ll say!

We resorted to the yellow pages to search for a correct phone number after calling a wrong one for a movie theatre. One number was off in the newspaper ad.

From the mid-west comes Judy Schuster, a writer and PR executive who keeps her eyes and ears to the ground. She recounts she saw and heard:

***An ad in which the groom tells his bride that he is her clone. JS writes, “Last I checked, a clone had to be the same sex.”  

***Her local sports reporter who repeatedly says: “The Twins were beat by the Yankees (or any other team).”   She adds, “He never uses ‘beaten.’ Today I heard the female anchor say, ‘Five [name of station] anchors and me helped build a Habitat for Humanity House today.'” She adds, “Last I checked, it should have been I.”

Back to me for a sec: An on-line magazine article that covered the subject of taste let a missing key word get away: “The real trick is to resist navigating consumer taste and understand the emotional sources for taste so that you can _____to them instead.”

Yellow pages to the rescue when we realized a digit was off in a movie theatre’s add in a local newspaper.

Retired New York editor AA writes about instances where an extra word and a missing word irritate her. “My pet peeve is ‘big of a,’  e.g. ‘It is too big of a deal to pass on it’ or ‘A Cadillac is too big of a car,’ or ‘He is too big of a jerk.’ I hear it on television and radio and from the lips of educated friends. Why of?” Adds AA, “The other thing I hate is ‘She graduated high school.’  What happened to the word from?”

Thomas M also sent the following, which might serve as an antidote to what appears to be a trend if not a tsunami of sloppy speech and writing. He told us that he’d ordered these birthday gifts for a child, noting that although he’s only seven and the books are recommended for children who are nine, the recipient is “quite a reader.” He noted further, “Each of these books shows, in cartoon form, the consequence of using the wrong punctuation marks: The Girl’s Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can’t Manage without Apostrophes!; Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! and Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, every punctuation mark counts!

I fear we don’t have to look far to find more written or spoken mistakes. We’d love to add your new finds to those of our typo squad, so please share! Think of the service we’ll be doing by letting people know we care.

4 Responses to “Service of a Typo Squad”

  1. ASK Said:

    Yikes, Jeanne, shouldn’t that first sentence read:

    “A majority of more than 100 foundations that lost 30 percent OF all (delete of here) their assets in the Madoff scandal had four or fewer board members, according ____ an analysis by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy…..”

    Here “all” is an adjective indicating quantity land modifying “their assets.” you also do NOT need the “of” between “all” and “their.”

    This stuff drives me crazy…

  2. Carolyn Gatto Said:

    Didn’t look far to find this headline on a blog: “How badly to you hate the middle seat? New survey says you’d rather visit the dentist.” Carolyn Gatto, co-founder and publisher,

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hard enough to follow instructions when they are carefully written….Just came across these on the web [I inserted the words name of service as we don’t bash brands]:

    Since [name of service] and other services such as ourselves index your blog with the assistance of your feeds, it is suggested to associated it o your blog.

  4. Martha Takayama Said:

    I acknowledge that I am a terrible typist, but I still wince when I come across errors in distinguished newspapers or books. I find grammatical errors even more irritating, and am constantly amazed by where they can be heard and seen. Referring to an individual as they is a prime example. My local newspaper, “The Brookline Tab,” makes constant use of that incorrect construction. Crime reports typically read as follows: “A person reported that their car was stolen…. “Another choice error is “between you and I”. I am not sure that my complaints apply directly to the matter at hand, but feel that they are related. I apologize humbly for any inadvertent errors in this post.

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