Typographical error

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A typographical error (often shortened to typo), also called a misprint, is a mistake (such as a spelling mistake) [1] made in the typing of printed (or electronic) material. Historically, this referred to mistakes in manual type-setting (typography). Technically, the term includes errors due to mechanical failure or slips of the hand or finger, [2] but excludes errors of ignorance, such as spelling errors, or changing and misuse of words such as "than" and "then". Before the arrival of printing, the copyist's mistake or scribal error was the equivalent for manuscripts. Most typos involve simple duplication, omission, transposition, or substitution of a small number of characters.


Fat finger or fat-finger syndrome (especially in the financial sector) is a slang term referring to an unwanted secondary action when typing. When a finger is bigger than the touch zone, with touchscreens or keyboards, there can be inaccuracy and one may hit two keys in a single keystroke. An example is buckled instead of bucked , due to the "L" key being next to the "K" key on the QWERTY keyboard, the most common keyboard for Latin-script alphabets.

Marking typos

Correction fluid is used to correct typographical errors after the document is printed. Spelling Correction Example.jpg
Correction fluid is used to correct typographical errors after the document is printed.

When using a typewriter without correction tape, typos were commonly overstruck with another character such as a slash. This saved the typist the trouble of retyping the entire page to eliminate the error, but as evidence of the typo remained, it was not aesthetically pleasing.

In computer forums, sometimes "^H" (a visual representation of the ASCII backspace character) was used to "erase" intentional typos: "Be nice to this fool^H^H^H^Hgentleman, he's visiting from corporate HQ." [3]

In instant messaging, users often send messages in haste and only afterward notice the typo. It is common practice to correct the typo by sending a subsequent message in which an asterisk is placed before (or after) the correct word. [4]

In formal prose, it is sometimes necessary to quote text containing typos or other doubtful words. In such cases, the author will write "[ sic ]" to indicate that an error was in the original quoted source rather than in the transcription. [5]

Scribal errors

Scribal errors received a lot of attention in the context of textual criticism. Many of these mistakes aren't specific to manuscripts and can be referred to as typos. Some classifications include homeoteleuton and homeoarchy (skipping a line due to the similarity of the ending or beginning), haplography (copying once what appeared twice), dittography (copying twice what appeared once), contamination (introduction of extraneous elements), metathesis (reversing the order of some elements), unwitting mistranscription of similar elements, mistaking similar looking letters, the substitution of homophones, fission and fusion (joining or separating words). [6] [7]

Biblical errors

The Wicked Bible Marked Wicked bible.jpg
The Wicked Bible
The Judas Bible in St. Mary's Church, Totnes, Devon, UK Judas Bible2.jpg
The Judas Bible in St. Mary's Church, Totnes, Devon, UK

The Wicked Bible omits the word "not" in the commandment "thou shalt not commit adultery".

The Judas Bible is a copy of the second folio edition of the authorized version, printed by Robert Barker, printer to King James I, in 1613, and given to the church for the use of the Mayor of Totnes. This edition is known as the Judas Bible because in Matthew 26:36 "Judas" appears instead of "Jesus". In this copy, the mistake (in the red circle) is corrected with a slip of paper pasted over the misprint.

"Intentional" typos

Certain typos, or kinds of typos, have acquired widespread notoriety and are occasionally used deliberately for humorous purposes. For instance, the British newspaper The Guardian is sometimes referred to as The Grauniad due to its reputation for frequent typesetting errors in the era before computer typesetting. [8] This usage began as a running joke in the satirical magazine Private Eye . [9] The magazine continues to refer to The Guardian by this name.

Typos are common on the internet in chatrooms, Usenet, and the World Wide Web, and some—such as "teh", "pwned", and "zomg"—have become in-jokes among Internet groups and subcultures. P0rn is not a typo but an example of obfuscation, where people make a word harder for robots to understand by changing it. [10]


Typosquatting is a form of cybersquatting that relies on typographical errors made by users of the Internet. [11] Typically, the cybersquatter will register a likely typo of a frequently-accessed website address in the hope of receiving traffic when internet users mistype that address into a web browser. Deliberately introducing typos into a web page, or into its metadata, can also draw unwitting visitors when they enter these typos in Internet search engines.

An example of this is gogole.com instead of google.com which could potentially be harmful to the user.

Typos in online auctions

Since the emergence and popularization of online auction sites such as eBay, misspelled auction searches have quickly become lucrative for people searching for deals. [12] The concept on which these searches are based is that, if an individual posts an auction and misspells its description and/or title, regular searches will not find this auction. However, a search that includes misspelled alterations of the original search term in such a way as to create misspellings, transpositions, omissions, double strikes, and wrong key errors would find most misspelled auctions. The resulting effect is that there are far fewer bids than there would be under normal circumstances, allowing the searcher to obtain the item for less. A series of third-party websites have sprung up allowing people to find these items. [13]

Atomic typos

Another kind of typo—informally called an "atomic typo"—is a typo that happens to result in a correctly spelled word that is different from the intended one. Since it is spelled correctly, a simple spellchecker cannot find the mistake. The term was used at least as early as 1995 by Robert Terry. [14]

A few illustrative examples include:

and many more. For any of these, the converse is also true.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Textual criticism</span> Identification of textual variants

Textual criticism is a branch of textual scholarship, philology, and of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification of textual variants, or different versions, of either manuscripts or of printed books. Such texts may range in dates from the earliest writing in cuneiform, impressed on clay, for example, to multiple unpublished versions of a 21st-century author's work. Historically, scribes who were paid to copy documents may have been literate, but many were simply copyists, mimicking the shapes of letters without necessarily understanding what they meant. This means that unintentional alterations were common when copying manuscripts by hand. Intentional alterations may have been made as well, for example, the censoring of printed work for political, religious or cultural reasons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spelling</span> Set of conventions to represent words in writing

Spelling is a set of conventions that regulate the way of using graphemes to represent a language in its written form. In other words, spelling is the rendering of speech sound (phoneme) into writing (grapheme). Spelling is one of the elements of orthography, and highly standardized spelling is a prescriptive element.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scrivener</span> Clerk, scribe, or notary

A scrivener was a person who could read and write or who wrote letters to court and legal documents. Scriveners were people who made their living by writing or copying written material. This usually indicated secretarial and administrative duties such as dictation and keeping business, judicial, and historical records for kings, nobles, temples, and cities. Scriveners later developed into public servants, accountants, lawyers and petition writers, and in England and Wales, scrivener notaries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spell checker</span> Software to help correct spelling errors

In software, a spell checker is a software feature that checks for misspellings in a text. Spell-checking features are often embedded in software or services, such as a word processor, email client, electronic dictionary, or search engine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Typing</span> Text input method

Typing is the process of writing or inputting text by pressing keys on a typewriter, computer keyboard, mobile phone or calculator. It can be distinguished from other means of text input, such as handwriting and speech recognition. Text can be in the form of letters, numbers and other symbols. The world's first typist was Lillian Sholes from Wisconsin in the US, the daughter of Christopher Sholes, who invented the first practical typewriter.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bible errata</span> Typographical errors that have occurred in various editions of The Bible

Throughout history, printers' errors, unconventional translations and translation mistakes have appeared in a number of published Bibles. Bibles with features considered to be erroneous are known as Bible errata, and were often destroyed or suppressed due to their contents being considered heretical by some.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">.cm</span> Internet country code top-level domain for Cameroon

.cm is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Cameroon.

Haplography, also known as lipography, is a scribal or typographical error where a letter or group of letters that should be written twice is written once. It is not to be confused with haplology, where a phoneme is omitted to prevent two similar sounds from occurring consecutively: the former is a textual error, while the latter is a phonological process.

Predictive text is an input technology used where one key or button represents many letters, such as on the numeric keypads of mobile phones and in accessibility technologies. Each key press results in a prediction rather than repeatedly sequencing through the same group of "letters" it represents, in the same, invariable order. Predictive text could allow for an entire word to be input by single keypress. Predictive text makes efficient use of fewer device keys to input writing into a text message, an e-mail, an address book, a calendar, and the like.

A correction in a newspaper consists of posting a public notice about a typographical error or factual mistake in a previously published article.

Autocorrection, also known as text replacement, replace-as-you-type or simply autocorrect, is an automatic data validation function commonly found in word processors and text editing interfaces for smartphones and tablet computers. Its principal purpose is as part of the spell checker to correct common spelling or typing errors, saving time for the user. It is also used to automatically format text or insert special characters by recognizing particular character usage, saving the user from having to use more tedious functions. Autocorrection is used in text messaging or SMS, as well as programs like Microsoft Word.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ostrog Bible</span> 16th-century East Slavic translation of the Bible

The Ostrog Bible was one of the earliest East Slavic translations of the Bible and the first complete printed edition of the Bible in Church Slavonic, published in Ostroh, in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, by the printer Ivan Fyodorov in 1581 with the assistance of the Ruthenian Prince Konstantin Ostrogski.

A transcription error is a specific type of data entry error that is commonly made by human operators or by optical character recognition (OCR) programs. Human transcription errors are commonly the result of typographical mistakes; putting one’s fingers in the wrong place while touch typing is the easiest way to make this error. Electronic transcription errors occur when the scan of some printed matter is compromised or in an unusual font – for example, if the paper is crumpled, or the ink is smudged, the OCR may make transcription errors when reading.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">HTTP referer</span> HTTP header field

In HTTP, "Referer" is an optional HTTP header field that identifies the address of the web page, from which the resource has been requested. By checking the referrer, the server providing the new web page can see where the request originated.

A ghost word is a word published in a dictionary or similarly authoritative reference work even though it had not previously had any meaning or been used intentionally. A ghost word generally originates from a typographical or linguistic error, taken as an unfamiliar word by readers.

A foreign language writing aid is a computer program or any other instrument that assists a non-native language user in writing decently in their target language. Assistive operations can be classified into two categories: on-the-fly prompts and post-writing checks. Assisted aspects of writing include: lexical, syntactic, lexical semantic and idiomatic expression transfer, etc. Different types of foreign language writing aids include automated proofreading applications, text corpora, dictionaries, translation aids and orthography aids.

DNS hijacking, DNS poisoning, or DNS redirection is the practice of subverting the resolution of Domain Name System (DNS) queries. This can be achieved by malware that overrides a computer's TCP/IP configuration to point at a rogue DNS server under the control of an attacker, or through modifying the behaviour of a trusted DNS server so that it does not comply with internet standards.

The Cupertino effect occurs when a spell checker erroneously replaces correctly spelled words that are not in its dictionary.

Muphry's law is an adage that states: "If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written." The name is a deliberate misspelling of "Murphy's law".

Typosquatting, also called URL hijacking, a sting site, or a fake URL, is a form of cybersquatting, and possibly brandjacking which relies on mistakes such as typos made by Internet users when inputting a website address into a web browser. Should a user accidentally enter an incorrect website address, they may be led to any URL.


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