The Great Typo Hunt

Editing and Writing

The Great Typo Hunt

If you’re one of those people who sees a typo on a grocery store sign and just goes mad, wanting to eradicate the error from the face of the earth, you’ll be cheering and waving your pom poms at this story.

Jeff Deck, inspired (and undoubtedly aggravated) by a “No Tresspassing” sign  (did you catch it??), set out on a journey around the U.S., to spot and try to correct exactly this sort of typo on signs. He took along his friend, Benjamin D. Herson, and they found 437 typos over the course of 2 1/2 months. Half of the people talked to allowed them to make the correction, using sharpies, whiteout, and other tools.

The result — aside from the corrected words — is a book called The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time. And if you’re anything like me, you are yearning to get a copy of this book. Or perhaps go on a similar road trip yourself!

One particular observation the friends made shows how important it is to have your business documents and signage properly edited. They said that the majority of the errors came from smaller establishments, while there were very few errors on the signs of larger companies.

Smaller businesses, hoping to cut financial corners, often think, “Oh, editing and proofreading doesn’t matter that much,” and either leave those items out of the picture altogether, or pay so badly for the task that they don’t attract properly qualified editors. And what is the result? Very unprofessional appearing signs, and undoubtedly unprofessional-looking documents as well.

One of the big lessons from this book is that if you want to make a professional impression, you need a good editor for your business materials. Everything from your letters to your brochures to the signs outside your building.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure if NPR will have information about Jeff Deck, his journey, and the book on their site forever, but do make a visit to learn more. There’s a 17-minute interview with Deck himself on the site, as well as an excerpt from the book.

I want this book very much.

Editors rule!


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