Do Typos Annoy You?

by | May 25, 2011 | Books | 188 comments

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?

188 Comments

  1. James Scott Bell

    They don't bother me a bite.

    Except, yes, they do. They are "bumps" that will take me out of a story. I am forgiving, because I know it can happen. But we should try our berst to get rid of them.

    Reply
  2. Chuck H.

    Yes, they do. Especially in newspapers or magazines. It just tells me someone is not doing their job and we have far too much of that these days.

    Reply
  3. Katherine Stott

    I'm a complete hypocrite because I commit these faults all the time, but I ABHOR TYPOS! Especially in books. I figure you've paid this much to publish the damn thing, why not get a great editor to proof it for you?

    That is my 2 cents worth. I hate typos. HATE. In bold and underlined.

    That is all.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I get infuriated by typos if the book is a $100 textbook. I think for that kind of money and level of scholarship they are more unforgiveable. Otherwise, an $8 paperback? Twitter or Facebook posting? Shrug; they happen.

    Reply
  5. Jen

    The problem with your own manuscript is that you know it backwards. So you don't spot the typos. You read exactly what you expect to see.

    I have a massive blind spot for typos in my own writing. It's guaranteed that I will only notice them after I've been to the copy shop to get the whole thing printed out.

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  6. Remus Shepherd

    Yes, typos in professionally published books annoy me. They're a sign that the editor/copyeditor/author are not bothering to give me a quality product for my money.

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  7. Dave Fymbo

    In a blog post, no, not really.

    But in a book? Absolutely. It's no different than a boom mic in a movie shot, or a singer flubbing a word.

    The standard has been set that art can and should be produced without errors.

    Reply
  8. Wordy Bird

    They drive me nuts. Every time I see a grocery sign that says "pea's and carrot's" I want to yell, "Pea's and carrot's what? Pea's pods? Carrot's high level of beta carotene?"

    Reply
  9. Joshua

    I think it depends on how invested I am in what I'm reading. Perhaps it's also based on how much I paid for the item. I've given up on online news articles ever being accurate.

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  10. Sam Webb

    I'm sure I've missed more than I've seen over the years. Typos only annoy me when they mess up the flow of a sentence and I have to re-read it three to four times to clearly understand what's going on. It breaks the spell of the writing.

    Reply
  11. Becky Taylor

    No. And I never understand people who feel they need to correct other people either online or in public. For sure, hate typos if you feel that strongly about it. But hate in private.

    It's poor social skills and bad manners.

    Reply
  12. Lynn(e)

    I read someone else's comment that said type-os in blogs don't bother them but in books they do. I agree with that.

    Something that makes me outrightly angry though, is the fact some of my work has been published in literary magazines, they asked for hard copies. Whoever typed them into the system (because they went electronic) turned works like farther into father and various things like that. That makes me want to strangle someone…just saying…

    Reply
  13. M.R. Merrick

    I think it depends on the story. Typo's don't really bother me in general. They are annoying yes, but as long as the writer is making up for the errors by telling me an awesome story, I'm okay with that. Mistakes happen, but if the story is good, I can skim past them without letting them get to me.

    Reply
  14. Cheryl

    A single typo is understandable. Numerous typos are frustrating. Pages filled with typos as well as extensive grammar issues — unforgiveable.

    Reply
  15. Bane of Anubis

    Not usually, unless they're rampant or somehow muddle meaning. I used to get annoyed by improper usage of the subjunctive, but I'm not such a prig about it anymore.

    Reply
  16. Stephanie Garber

    To me a typo is like finding a hidden mickey at Disneyland. I know most books have at least one, and if I found that one typo I feel a little proud of myself.

    If there are a bunch of typo's in a book I would probably become annoyed, but if there's only one or two then I don't really think it's a big deal

    Reply
  17. Dick Margulis

    It annoys me when the number of typos in a book suggests that the publisher cheaped out on editing and proofreading. If a publisher is willing to debase the value of its imprint by cutting corners like that, I don't need to support the publisher by buying its books.

    Reply
  18. Deborah Blake Dempsey

    The only time I get annoyed is if it's in a book I'm reading and it's constant. A few I'm okay with because it's thousands of words so I get. Mistakes happen. But consistent misspellings will drive me nuts and force me to put the book down. It will stop me, then I have to think about it, then I'll get aggravated. It's too much work.

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  19. Barbara Watson

    Typos in a book bug me. Numerous people on the to-publication chain should catch them. Typos in a blog post, not at all. Life moves on an expressway.

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  20. Mrs. Dub

    Do I notice typos? Always. Are they distracting and embarrassing? Yes. Do they lead to a pompous glow of superiority? Often.

    That said, I would never point one out, unless I think the author would want to know. (Saying "fart food" instead of "fast food," for example, in a serious news story. Then again, it would be funnier to leave it in.)

    I take issue with people who think perfection comes with a professional title. As a journalist, I can't stand people who think I should be an expert on all topics I write about. Certainly thorough research and fact-checking are essential, but there are limitations to every job.

    Same goes for books. Yes, they have a fancy publisher and big-shot editors, but those people are still human. Working in a certain field doesn't make you a trained robot. Accountability is required by the writer, but compassion is also expected by the reader.

    In short (even though I wasn't): Lighten up!

    Reply
  21. Mr. D

    I spot them, (I'm a teacher after all,) and they have no business being in a published book, but I don't get bent out of shape for them.

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  22. Brooke Johnson

    It's one thing to have a typo in a 80,000 word book. That doesn't bother me. Proofreading tends toward glazed over eyes and a stomach full of coffee and chocolate.

    It's another thing completely when there is a typo in a headline or sign. It comes across as unprofessional and lazy. So, that's when it bothers me.

    Reply
  23. Julie Nilson

    They don't bug me that much in a blog post (or something similar) since those are more immediate and not pored over by teams of editors. But in a book, newspaper, or magazine? Yeah, typos bug me. I've worked in the publishing industry, on the corporate side, for a very long time and I know how many writers, editors, copyeditors, and higher-ups read over those things before they go to print, so it bugs me when something gets past all of those people. A minor typo or two isn't *that* bad, but any more than that is annoying.

    And those are just the mis-typing kind of errors–don't even get me started on egregious spelling errors!

    Reply
  24. Barbara Kloss

    With respect to your post, I'm a little scared to leave a comment! 🙂

    No, really, typos only bug me if they're everywhere. Heck, I have them, even when I've sworn they no longer exist. I still find them. I seem to have a comma problem, too.

    Reply
  25. Tasha Ivey

    I agree. In my own writing, I have a hard time spotting the typos, and I can also see how editors can miss an occasional goof. I cannot, however, forgive incorrect word usage (such as their, they're, there). Drives me insane!

    Reply
  26. Emily White

    Typos only annoy me when they take up a significant percentage of the book (like 5-10%). The truth is, I've never read ANY book that didn't have at least one typo. And I can live with one or two, or even five or six, but when I start seeing at least one every page, the typos start to give me a headache.

    Reply
  27. Vinyl and Mono

    YES. Because I'm an editor by trade, and I've watched as the field has started to disappear. Fewer editors are hired or considered necessary. Of these, even fewer have real training or expertise. The ones that do are not given the time to do the job right (or, in the case of one project I worked on, told up front NOT to correct too many things, even if they're wrong, because it's "expensive"). Meanwhile, it seems that the use of plural and possessive have completely switched places, homonyms are considered pretty much interchangeable, and commas are sprinkled anywhere the writer feels like putting them. Do I sound bitter?

    Reply
  28. Ishta Mercurio

    I consider myself to be a reasonable, stable individual. I don't spank my kids, I eat healthy food and get reasonable exercise, I am in a loving and stable relationship. Life isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn good.

    BUT.

    Typos annoy me like the voices haunt a paranoid schizophrenic. I hate them. I have to fight down urges to correct them everywhere I go, and they continue to bother me hours later. Their prevalence is evidence of the "dumbing down" that runs rampant throughout our educational system. I want them eradicated, especially in the case of magazines and newspapers, whose word is often taken as law. Printed matter such as these should educate, not reflect.

    I could go on, but I think you take my point. *gnashes teeth and goes off to punch a tree*

    Reply
  29. Glynis

    I can forgive a few. If a book is full of them and it is obvious only one set of eyes has read through it, then I am a little irritated. If it has quite a few and has been published by a large press, then I would be put out.

    Since taking on Beta readers, boy am I embarrassed I submitted to you, Nathan. One year on please accept my apologies. If I had been bull-headed and self published, I would have inflicted irritation upon others.

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  30. Reece

    They drive me insane! But most of the time (99%), if I put forth the effort to make a comment, I don't say anything to anyone but my wife.

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  31. Jonathan Dalar

    In a blog or forum where the author is typing stream-of-consciousness? I notice them. In a published book? They annoy me to a certain degree. In my own work? They infuriate me!

    Why? Because, especially in this day and age where every typo is underlined with a squiggly red line, they're really too obvious to just happen to skip over. It shows a serious lack of attention to detail.

    I'll forgive "bite" when the author means "bit" more so than a completely misspelled word, though, because spell checkers don't catch that. But completely misspelled words? Hmm. Not so much. Technology should be eliminating 95% of them by now, and if it doesn't, the blame rests squarely on human shoulders.

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  32. Richard Gibson

    They happen, but I'm a good copyeditor and yes, they annoy me, especially in books (typos in quick-to-print newspapers and magazines are more forgivable).

    That's one of the things that is on the list of the values added by traditional publishing, for me. And I'll say that there certainly seem to be many more than in my old paperbacks, where one would be unusual (and I'm not talking about self-pubbed books old or new).

    I have a college textbook, third edition no less, in which I flagged no less than 67 mistakes – not subjective word choices, but obvious errors. Unforgivable.

    Word verification: nottpo

    If it had been notypo I'd have begun to believe in the supernatural. I'll just hope I have none in the post!

    Reply
  33. Mira

    It's fun to read the comments on this thread.

    Typos don't bother me at all. No biggie. Probably because grammar and I are barely on speaking terms, and spelling and I haven't spoken in years.

    I'm surprised to hear they don't bother you, though, Nathan. I always thought you were pretty tough when it came to things like that. See? I learn something new every day. 🙂

    Reply
  34. Stephanie McGee

    Typos, not usually. It's the blatant errors, "who's" for "whose" type of problems that really make me grind my teeth. People tell me that they notice typos in books because of me. It's probably me ranting about the glaring issues of misused words that gets them noticing things.

    Typos happen. We get going in a story and our fingers start to trip over themselves because we're in such a hurry to get the words from our brain to the word processor document.

    Reply
  35. Savannah Rose

    As a reader it is troublesome when the story is flowing and all of a sudden you come to a complete stop because of a typo. As a writer, it allows me the knowledge to know, "I'm not alone."

    Reply
  36. Kevin Lynn Helmick

    When they're in a rejection letter, yeah. And I don't want to hear, "oh but we have so many submissions." And little bit from bestselling books. I see an editor not practicing what they preach. demanding excellence from submissions but not producing it for the buying public. but it's usually far an few between and I never blame the writer. What are ya gonna do…ask for your money back for a typo?

    Reply
  37. Stephanie McGee

    I should say that errors and typos in the graphics on news stories irk me to no end. You don't get the chance to go back and re-do those. And if people notice, in my opinion, it drops the credibility of the news program just a tiny bit.

    But in books I don't get so hot and bothered about it.

    Reply
  38. mmshaunakelley

    I am sort of with Richard, and a total hypocrit for it. I am a TERRIBLE copyeditor (worse on my own stuff). I also cannot spell, and have no idea where and when to put commas in. My own first novel was a labor of love for my wonderful publisher, who had hours and hours of copyediting to do before it was good to go. And I've still gotten zinged on a few typos.

    However, when I am reading a book that is traditionally published, particularly by a large house, they do jump out at me and bug me. It undermines the author's authority, which drives me a bit batty.

    But I am totally guilty of the crime which I rail against here.

    Reply
  39. Joanne McGonagle

    I agree with James Scott Bell. They take me out of a story. I also know, as Jen said, that they are difficult to catch in your own writing. When I find typos in my own blog posts, I cringe. When I see them in other blog posts it doesn't bother me as much because I know how easy it is to make them.

    In a book or magazine, it bothers me.

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  40. Valerie

    Typos in published books annoy me because I know that more than one set of eyes has looked at that manuscript, so I'm not sure how they could get missed. I've been reading a lot of books through iBooks lately though and have noticed nearly everyone has a typo, so then I wonder if that's a result of some sort of software conversion issue. When it comes to blogs, they don't bother me so much, but in published works they do.

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  41. Carrie Baize

    Most of the time, I don't catch typos. When it's a simple mistake and/or one I make often, my brain simply corrects it as I read.

    My biggest typo-esque peeve is using the glaringly incorrect (or nonexistent!) word. Things like "your invited" and "irregardless" make me want to throw things.

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  42. Mister Fweem

    I find typos more amusing than annoying. I have a student who wrote about how the sun makes everything "shinny" and I had to wonder how everything would look with enormous shins.

    Superfluous apostrophes are also a great source of amusement. Oh, look, it's the Macconnell's mailbox. . .

    Thing is, this kind of stuff is easy to fix once you notice it. Bad writing, on the other hand, you can't fix even if it's 100 percent typo-free.

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  43. Ang

    Yes, typos annoy me because they are relatively simple to avoid. Spell check is a great tool, but it amazes me how seldom people seem to use it.

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  44. Robert Michael

    My favorite thing is to read an Amazon review where the person posting is blasting the editing of the book and their own writing is horrible, with words spelled wrong and poor grammar and syntax. Oh, the irony.

    By the way, my blindspot is "their" or "thier." Seriously. I can never remember and I can't trust my judgment. And judgment is another because it just BEGS for an "e" after "g!" The English language can be quite ugly despite its flexibility and breadth of expression.

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  45. Hillsy

    Get ADHD….you barely notice any typos then….granted you have to read each paragraph twice but judging by the wildly exaggerated reaction here that'd be a preferable experience

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  46. Jackie

    For the most part, no. I don't mind typos in books. But then, I hardly ever find typos. I'm kind of with the person who said finding a typo is like finding a hidden Mickey at Disney. I'm like, "Haha! Caught you!" and I circle the typo in delight. I also tend to look past them if the story is really good.
    If the story is just awful and there are a ton of typos, then I just stop reading.

    Reply
  47. Andrea

    I am a new commenter! I just had to put in my opinion on this subject. I can forgive one or two typos or grammatical errors, however if I purchase a book that has a lot of them it really irritates me. I spent my money on this product. I spent my time and energy reading this product. Therefore I expect it to be produced in a professional manner, and that means quality editing and proofreading. It's disrespectful to the consumer to put out a poor quality product. I think it is doubly bad to try to pull something like that on readers, who more often than not will definitely notice shoddy editing because it will jolt them out of the story. And with all of the spellcheckers and other grammar resources available in this day and age, it is absolutely unacceptable to come across a book with severe grammatical and spelling problems.

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  48. Melissa

    I couldn't care less about typos in blogs or on FB. I can overlook the occasional typo in a book — even with the best copy editors and MANY sets of eyes, the occasional mistake gets overlooked.

    But I can't stand frequent typos. I always "look inside" before buying a self-published book, and if I see typos, I absolutely will not buy it.

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  49. abbe

    There's a sign for a printing company that I pass every day that advertises that they make "Scrath-n-win Tickets" and the McDonald's near my house that advertises "Shamerock Shakes". Typos like those drive me nuts because it's not like they're lost in a ton of copy. Somebody should be paying attention.

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  50. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    This would have been a great poll question. Yes, I notice typos, grammar problems, and misused words, and they do bother me.

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  51. Matthew MacNish

    I don't think I have a detailed enough grasp of grammar and punctuation to even be able to recognize most typos, let alone be bothered by them.

    I do have a decent vocabulary and spelling skillz, though, so misused or misspelled words can bother me, if they show up often enough.

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  52. The Sentence Sleuth

    As a copy editor, I say absolutely it bothers me! So much so that I complain about errors daily on my blog!

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  53. chelsea

    Typos do bug the crap out of me. I don't know why, because we are all guilty of them here and there. What really drives me insane is unnecessary quotation marks. There's a store in my town called Pet Supplies "Plus". WTF?!?!?!?!?

    P.S. I assume/hope that James Scott Bell thought he was being cute when he left those typos in his post.

    Reply
  54. April

    Oh my gosh, yes! Soooo…much. ESPECIALLY when I find them in my own writing. It's embarrassing because I can spot them in someone else's writing…but not in my own until I'm rereading something for the first…or fifth…or hundredth time. I wonder why that is? I guess, we're just too close to our own writing to always catch that stuff.

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  55. Denise M. Baran-Unland

    Yes, especially in my work, because there's always another…and another…that I failed to spot, despite ruthless weeding.

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  56. Anonymous

    Queen of typos speaketh.

    I do notice them. They do give me pause. Then I just feel better about my own, like we're all human here, right?

    Except for Franzen.

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  57. Nicole L Rivera

    I rarely recognize misspelled words so when I find one in a book I feel like I've spotted treasure after a long hunt. I love typos…when I notice them 🙂

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  58. Anonymous

    Not all all. I think they're kind of cute sometimes.

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  59. Rick Daley

    Your pretty lenient. If their are typos I, get really mad. If a sentance is full of typos its hard for me to assertain it's meaning.

    In all seriousness (like you'd ever believe I was serious), it depends on where the typo occurs. In email, blog posts, tweets, chat/IM, texting…who cares?

    Even in formal business email I see typos all the time. You have to be able to read past them, or nothing would ever get done.

    When I find a typo in a published book I may chuckle to myself for having caught it, but it doesn't bother me.

    WORD VERIFICATION: wayap. In New England, the oppostie of way down.

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  60. PatG

    Typos, drive me mad. A book I read recently had a continual typo. I had been so looking forward to reading it, because it had some good reviews, but the typos spoilt it for me.

    Although I do have a bit of a nerve complaining, because like Jen I have a total blind spot for them, when it comes to my own writing. I read what I think should be there and not what's actually there.
    So forgive me if this comment has any.

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  61. Rick Daley

    Please add WORD VERIFICATIONS to my list of approved holders of typos. I meant opposite. Thank you.

    WORD VERIFICATION: doessome. When one is only partly engaged, e.g. he doessome of his work.

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  62. Ms. Casey

    I wouldn't say that they annoy me. If anything, I'm a little proud when I spot them. I'm with you–people are busy, and I'd much rather have a book with well-developed characters, voice, strong plot, etc. than something that's meticulously clean but dry.

    That said, I'm one of those hyper-organized people who is careful about my own typos. So I'm still slightly embarrassed when I don't catch my own errors!

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  63. Becky

    If it's just a few, I notice, but it doesn't bother me. It just reminds me that I'm not the only one who makes mistakes. =)

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  64. Josin L. McQuein

    Yes typos bother me, and I blame word find puzzles for it.

    There's a visual phenomenon that allows your brain to process groups of letter as the word they make up, even if they're not in the correct order. This is one reason people can pick out words in a seek-and-find, even if the word is backward or diagonal. Your brain recognizes the string of letters for what it is.

    A little signal goes off and makes you go back and read the section over and over until you pick out the appropriate letters.

    When I see a typo, even if I know what the word is supposed to be, my brain stutters on it like stepping in gum. And I hate stepping in gum.

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  65. Ted Cross

    Yes, because they really disrupt the flow of my reading, pulling me right out. I recently read The Dragonbone Throne, which is a major novel by a big publisher, yet it was full of typos. I couldn't believe how bad the editing was.

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  66. M. Forsyth

    In books, yes. They take me out of the story, remind me that I am in the hands of a human intelligence. Sometimes bad prose can do that. When I'm floating along in the "vivid and continuous dream" of fiction, though, and a "teh" appears? RAH!

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  67. Marsha Sigman

    Typos infuriate me.

    And I don't make that many in my manuscripts…but I do stutter and repeat the same word back to back. I have no idea why.

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  68. Y G Mason

    Yes, they're distracting – especially in books. Although this wasn't in the actual story, when I bought a copy of Villette the other day, on almost the first page was a heading that said 'OTHER NOVERLS BY CHARLOTTE BRONTE'.

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  69. Carl

    In books they bother me because the interrupt the flow of the book. In the real world I just find them amusing.

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  70. Dorothy L. Abrams

    Okay, let me try this again. I removed the previous post because when I hit "publish your comment" I saw a blatant typo.

    Too Late!!!!

    I thought that I likely could not pass that off as "Just seeing if you are paying attention." So as I was saying:
    Typos bother me most when they are mine. I feel vindicated when they are someone else's. That being said, I used to teach grammar and composition. The fact is our rules of grammar are ever evolving. How commas are used is unsettled at best. Our spelling is more codified now than in the 1700's, but it was not always so. I suspect in the electronic age of tweets and texts, even that will change. One of the basic characteristics of English is its flexibility. Not so its speakers and writers, eh? [There, I hope I found all the errors, but I only taught English. I never was a good copy editor.}

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  71. Brandi Lynch

    I can forgive most typos because they are easy to overlook. What really gets me recently are the major errors I've found lately in books I buy. I've found in several novels recently places where there was apparently an option of how the sentence could be written. Instead of choosing one, they're both included which puts the brakes on the story flow if it doesn't completely turn the line into senseless garble.

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  72. Patricia Lynne

    Typos don't bother me one bit. In fact I read a book the other day that had a couple typos and I got excited that I found them. To me, it's kind of like seeing a mistake in a movie (like in Lord of the Rings where a car is supposed to be driving in the background. I was so bummed I didn't notice.) I feel like I'm really paying attention to notice.

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  73. D.G. Hudson

    Typos? (We must assume that they are typos rather than incorrect spelling – right?) If there are a few, it doesn't bother me, but if it happens frequently or if they are common words, it makes the writer seem lazy.

    I agree, it's hard to see them sometimes when reading our own writing, but has proofreading become a LOST ART? Is everyone in such a hurry to push out that book that we forget Quality does count to some people? You may call them the grammar & typo police, but I think some people just want to see quality in writing.

    There's too much of this feeling like you said — that we're all too busy. (especially when we factor in real life, blogs, social networks and our techie toys)

    Proofreading and editing were part of my job in the past, and most of the errors we found were made because the writer didn't check his own work.

    I tend to notice incorrect spelling of words more than punctuation and grammar, and like Mr. Bell – they jolt me out of the story. It won't deter me from reading a favorite author. However if it's a new author, I probably won't pick up another book of theirs.

    Readers can be fickle, for whatever reason. Don't give them one.

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  74. abc

    I'm in the not at all bothered category. It seems petty to get frustrated by typos.

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  75. The Red Angel

    Some of my friends like to jokingly call me the "Grammar Nazi," so umm I guess this means typos do indeed annoy me haha.

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  76. Steven

    Yes, I become extremely annoyed when I spot a typo, spelling, or grammatical error. It is especially irritating when I noticed errors in published novels. In Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson's recent book, Towers of Midnight, I found a disturbing amount of errors.
    Fortunately, some editors and publishers take their work seriously. From what I saw of Control Switch On by Ira Teller, the author and editors made sure not to allow even the smallest spelling error into the book; which is much more enjoyable for the reader.

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  77. Gill James

    Typos don't annoy me – more often than not they amuse me. They're accidents. However, poor grammar and incorrect pucntuation do annoy me. They're about people not knowing how to write.

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  78. Craig Allen

    It depends upon the context. In an email or something obviously written "on the fly" I can get over one or two. After that I start to wonder if the writer cares at all about language.

    In books, in anything other than first drafts, I start having problems with them. I well understand that writers often can't see them, simply because their mind "knows" what should be there and reads it that way. However, that doesn't excuse them.

    In what other profession do we accept that? If the man who built your car fails to put it together properly, wouldn't you care?

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  79. Joanne Sher

    In a word – YES! More than anything in my own stuff, but in others' too. UUUGGGHHH. (Are there typos in Jacob Wonderbar?? Just wonderin' – I'd still buy it. Just curious)

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  80. Adie

    Like Dorothy said, they bother me the most when they're mine . . .

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  81. cwsherwoodedits

    I'm a freelance copyeditor so typos bother me greatly, particularly when I see them more and more in traditionally published books. To me, they're a sign of tremendous carelessness. I find it astonishing, given the number of people who work on a manuscript, that typos manage to slip through so frequently. The typo issues with e-books are even worse, and I don't believe it can all be attributed to problems with Kindle formatting, for example. In an e-book published by Macmillan that I read recently, there were literally dozens of typos. I can't imagine the print version, which was published several years ago, was so horrendous. To get books from their backlist into e-book format, are publishers hiring someone to type in old manuscripts and not having them proofread first? (I don't know what process publishers use to do this–it seems like they'd still have the electronic files for their books and would simply convert them, but I don't know. I'd be curious because the typo problem appears rampant in e-books.)
    Nathan, as far as your own typos, I've read your blog for years and can't recall any issues. If you're doing your own proofreading, then you're doing a great job of it.

    Reply
  82. Sasha Barin

    I can basically glue the author's fins together for spelling "their" as "there".

    Reply
  83. Sierra McConnell

    They amuse me more than anything, because I have such terrible spelling myself.

    I once came into a training class to prepare the computers, and saw a sign boldly declaring:

    "Please sign into the competer and begin your training."

    And constantly on the Symon Boards I'm seeing things like:

    "Training is in the Colden Rod room." When it's the Goldenrod room. You would think people would know where they work. Even though it was cold that day…

    Reply
  84. Ella Schwartz

    YES!!! Typos annoy me greatly. It's like chewing on tin foil every time I find one.

    Reply
  85. Robert Gray

    For me, it's a lot like going out to eat. If I'm getting a quick bite at a fast food restaurant, I only expect that they get the order right and that the food is somewhat warm. If I'm fine dining, my standards are much higher. Likewise, if I'm reading a small press or self-pubbed title by a relatively unknown or new writer, I don't mind if there are some errors, as long as the basics are covered: good story, compelling characters and a decent command of the English language. If I'm reading the latest best seller, my standards increase.

    Reply
  86. SapphireEmbers

    Okay so am I the only one who realizes you meant to say excited instead of exercised?? YES, typos annoy me greatly; having been a newspaper copy editor only enhanced the fact that my brain goes into auto-editing mode every time I read something and I often find myself correcting sentences without even realizing it. 🙂

    Reply
  87. WriterGirl

    No it doesn't bother me at all. I would just figure that everyone make mistakes and it's a bit unfortunate that copy editors mistake might end up being printed thousands of times but sure it's not the end of the world is it? Though when a characters name is the typo that can be confusing. I've read a couple of books where 2 characters names have been switched in a sentence and i have to read it a few times before i realise that it's a mistake and not just a really confusing twist.

    Reply
  88. Heidi

    Typos irritate the heck out of me. I'm getting used to accepting them in informal types of writing, like blogs and comments – my son makes fun of me because I spell out most of my text messages instead of using all of the abbreviations.

    But punctuation and spelling mistakes just grind at me like a piece of gravel in my shoe. Especially in printed articles, but mostly in advertising.

    If you buy ad space on a billboard and apostrophize your plurals, to me, you are not saying
    "Three-for-one Taco's!" you are saying,
    "I AM A BIG FAT IDIOT!"
    I don't want to give my business to idiots.
    But I love tacos.

    Reply
  89. Anna

    No, but I feel smart when I find one. Except once a fabulous cookbook left out half of the steps in a recipe. First time I've ever returned a cookbook.

    Reply
  90. Kelli

    It depends, online, I figure one maybe two people have looked something over, so not as much. But a 'real life' published book? I expect it to be typo free. More than anything it makes me feel a tiny bit superior, "Hey I found this typo that nobody else noticed." But I'm not going to write about it in a review unless it's an overwhelming amount.
    (Also, I use commas like I use my salt, freely and on everything.)

    Reply
  91. Sommer Leigh

    I fall in the minority with you Nathan, they don't really bother me. If a book has excessive typos, which I find in self-published stuff more often than traditionally published stuff, I can't continue reading. But one here, one there? They barely register and when they do, oh well? I get the meaning and that's what matters.

    This is especially true for blog posts, emails, and Tweets. I certainly don't spend extra time editing them, so I don't expect someone else to either.

    But it does really bother people. I remember in book five of the Harry Potter series there is a typo later in the book where the word "four" is used when the intended word was "for." A friend of mine noticed it first and ranted and raved about this error, as if the whole series was propped up by it. I just don't fall into this category of being overly bothered by one or two.

    Reply
  92. Lori

    The grammar and typo police takes no prisoner.

    Wouldn't that be "take no prisoner"?

    Reply
  93. Steven Gomez

    To borrow a phrase from Tolkien, I "cordially dislike" typos and grammar mistakes. However, I try not to flaunt it. If it's a friend on Facebook who regularly mistypes everything, I leave it be. But if it's someone who should really know better, I GENTLY correct them. 🙂 (Though I find they generally correct themselves.) I think the main thing about correcting people's typos or grammar errors is to do it politely.

    By the way, Nathan…

    "The grammar and typo police takes no prisoner."

    Shouldn't that be "take no prisoners"?

    🙂

    Reply
  94. Anonymous

    nathan: i'm curious…can you amend your post to have a voting option? i'd actually like to see a percentage breakout….

    Reply
  95. Nathan Bransford

    SapphireEmbers-

    No, I meant exercised not excited:

    M-W

    3b : to cause anxiety, alarm, or indignation in

    I don't know about the police/take no prisoner issue, like I said, I'm not really a copyeditor.

    Reply
  96. Kevin R. Bridges

    I think it may not be genuine annoyance in some cases, as much as people catching something that the professionals did not, and feeling superior.

    Reply
  97. Bryan Russell (Ink)

    Well, considering my dayjob is editing and proofreading, yes–in the sense that I'd rather they weren't there.

    But I don't get up in arms about them. They happen. Even the best writers and copyeditors miss an occasional one. I like it as clean as possible, but hey, sometimes shit and/or comma splices happen. I've done it. I'm not gonna pan a book just because there were a couple of missed typos.

    But my red pen (tracked changes) does like to sniff them out with eradication on the mind…

    (and boy do I see some funny typos, too…)

    Reply
  98. Christina

    Okay, so here's the thing with me. I have ADD, so sometimes I have my own issue with typos. However, it bugs me to such a degree that I go through and check everything I write 3 or 4 times. Typos still happen, but if I can catch the majority of them, I think a professional proofreader or editor should be able to find all of them. That is, after all, their job.

    If I have paid for something (be it book, magazine, or newspaper) it should be the best darn product possible. This means that someone should be paid to hunt down and correct all the typos. The reason for this is that typos often yank me right out of the story. I have to re-read sentences and try to figure out what they meant, rather than what they wrote.

    If it's something for a professional purpose it should be typo-free because otherwise it just looks like you don't care. For instance, I was reading something from an editor about why I should hire her but there was a typo in the letter. Sorry, but I'm going to hire the editor who does not have a typo in their letter. They cared enough to check it again and maybe read it out loud or have someone else look at it first. I'm a perfectionist, I want anyone I work with to be the same way.

    If it's something online, something I have NOT paid for, or something that is more casual (i.e. txt, personal email, Facebook post)? I really don't care. I have a dyslexic sister and a mother who can't spell if her life depends on it. I know what they mean most times and if I don't, I can ask because it's more casual and I know them. I can't do that with a book/magazine/newspaper. It's totally on me to figure out what they meant and sometimes, especially in books with scientific terms or made up words, it can lead to quite a bit of confusion.

    I guess I'm saying that depending on the situation it does bother me.

    Reply
  99. beth

    Typos annoy me in professional work–because I expect the work to be professional. It's not something that will make me quit reading if the story is good, but it is something that will make me lose respect for the people involved if there are too many. It's one reason why I avoid self-published books–they are too often unprofessionally presented.

    What annoys me more than typos in unprofessional settings (i.e. blog posts, Facebook, Twitter)?

    People who call out the typos, especially if it's a rare occurrence. If I'm updating my Facebook feed and accidentally miss a comma, you can still understand what I'm saying and there's no point in calling me out on it.

    That said, if you *constantly* post on Facebook with incorrect grammar, I do silently judge you. I'm a bad person in that way.

    (This was a much longer rant than I thought I'd make! I guess, in essence, if it's a professional work, grammar SHOULD be PERFECT. If it's not a professional work, and you exhibit decent grammar, I like you. But if you're either the perpetual grammar nazi or the perpetual lazy writer, even in an unprofessional setting, we're probably not going to be friends.)

    Reply
  100. beth

    *rant continued*

    Also: if you're just a buddy of mine, I could care less about your grammar in an unprofessional setting. But I will admit that I have a higher standard for fellow writers. If you're a writer, and you, for example, never use capital letters in Tweets or blog posts, I will not read any of your work. It's as if you're being a sloppy painter if you do that, and I won't trust your art.

    Reply
  101. Taylor Rae

    I think it's silly to get all flustered over "your" instead of "you're." Typos happen. People don't know every rule of the English language, and that's okay.

    Reply
  102. Caroline

    Typos used to annoy me to no end. But then I met and married the love of my life–a man who couldn't spell his way out of a paper bag. So I have become much more forgiving. Although I still raise an eyebrow when he misspells something in a text message. My favorite is his use of "to" for "too." I must always respond: "too! too!"

    Reply
  103. Caitlin

    Honestly, it depends on where it is and how bad the typo is. There have been times when I've been reading a book, come across a typo, and laughed about it with my husband. There have been other times when I've posted a blog post with multiple typos because I was rushing to get it done.

    I do try to be understanding, but there are times when the typos are just so stupid that I can't let it go.

    Reply
  104. Steph Sinkhorn

    I tend to get annoyed, yeah, but only when it's SUPER pervasive and frequent. If I spot one or two typos and a few scattered grammar errors throughout a book, I'm not going to get my nose out of joint. When it's constant sentence structure errors, basic writing mistakes, and clearly not understanding what a semi-colon is for, that gets to me. Mostly because I notice it constantly and it takes me out of the story.

    I agree that we all make mistakes and no one's perfect, myself included, so I'm happy to be a little lenient for mistakes. But when I feel like they're not mistakes but a lack of writing knowledge, I get a little miffed because I think, "You know, you're doing this professionally. Maybe you should take a class."

    Reply
  105. Juliette

    Typos drive me insane because they take me out of what I'm reading. Also, I spend a lot of time marking, copy-editing and proof-reading, so I feel the need to pull out a pen and correct the error.

    I don't mind them so much on blogs, though, as long as there aren't too many, and I know there are a fair few on my blog. I figure in a more informal context like a blog, it's important to feel free to type and publish more quickly, so of course a few errors will creep in.

    Reply
  106. Kristin Laughtin

    They don't make me too angry, but I do tend to notice them and get transported out of the story. They make me doubt the copyeditor a little bit, though never enough that I've researched who did that particular book or anything. I suppose that PERHAPS if I noticed it was a chronic problem with one publisher, I'd be a little wary of working with them, but it's more likely that I would just be more paranoid about making my manuscript as flawless as possible before turning it in.

    Reply
  107. Megan M.

    I do get annoyed. If there are one or two, I can see how that would happen and I don't judge them on it. But more than two, and I start to wonder… How many people proofread this? Why didn't anyone notice? How much will the author want to strangle me if I email them with page and line numbers of every mistake I found?

    As James Scott Bell says in the very first comment, a typo or mistake – even if you know immediately what the line is "meant" to say – takes you out of the story. The reading experience is not as smooth.

    I've long felt that people should really hire me to point these things out. But then again, this post probably has a typo and will make me look like a fool. Karma. 🙂

    Reply
  108. MJR

    I've worked for a proofreader and copyeditor for over 20 years. Do typos bother me? Not really. Good spelling isn't related to intelligence. You either are or not good at it. What DOES bother me is people who correct bloggers' typos or the typos in people's comments. I hate that…who cares if there's a typo.

    Reply
  109. Lexi

    Yes, I notice typos and find them distracting to the point where I will stop reading.

    Reply
  110. TheLabRat

    Depends on the typo and the context. There are certain kinds of typos that any really speedy typist can tell you are fairly common if you get going too fast in an environment where you feel your message can still be understood (like typing "teh" instead of "the" in a blog comment or on a message board). Then there are typos that do actually make it harder to decipher the meaning of text; bonus points if you find one in a newspaper or other professional setting.

    They don't usually make me irate or anything, but they definitely bug sometimes.

    Reply
  111. Stacey Nelson

    Typos in books bug me, but I get over it. I figure the percentage of typos is pretty small in a book.

    The ones that make me cringe and/or laugh out loud and take photos of are the ones that are on billboards and/or signs in public places. There are usually only like 4-5 words on these signs, people. You couldn't be bothered to correct 4-5 words? On a monsterously huge sign? Seriously?

    Reply
  112. K. C. Blake

    It does annoy me, yes, especially when it is something I wrote. I can hear my fourth grade English teacher loud and clear. "That is not the correct way to spell that!"

    Reply
  113. Charlie

    One or two typos here and there don't bother me that much, at least to the point of distracting me from the story. On the other hand, if typos distracted me that much, the story wasn't happening for me and I would've probably put it down anyway.

    Just like in life, I'm the forgiving type. Mistakes never bother me.

    Reply
  114. Rebecca Stroud

    I abhor typos! Granted, I can overlook some in a 350-page book but that's about where my tolerance stops, primarily because these works were supposedly professionally edited.

    What I hate even worse is when the same typo is made repeatedly. For example: I was reading a book that used the word "voila!" more than once. Fine, except that it appeared as "viola!" each time. Talk about taking you out of the story…

    Reply
  115. Ricki Schultz

    I can be forgiving, but I am just wired to notice them, and they can really take me out of the story. That's what bothers me the most.

    If it's a few, no big deal. I'd rather they weren't there, of course, but I understand we're all human. I see them in Big Published Books all the time.

    If it's a book about writing or editing — or a blog post trying to be an authority on something along those lines — that's when they become more problematic for me.

    Reply
  116. Anonymous

    Tipos driv me insan becuz thay can obscure the meaning of a sentence.

    Misplaced commas, can be, particularly, annoying, because they make you pause, in the wrong places.

    Incorrectly used apostrophes make the reader work to determine the writer's intended meaning: … and it's worn and bumpy (insert line break/page turn) vs. … and its worn and bumpy (line break/page turn) tail straggled behind it.

    Reply
  117. Anonymous

    Oh, typos jump out at me. That fact has possibly gotten me a job with one of the professors at my university.

    And, yes, typos annoy the heck out of me. For example, I don't know what an open is, but there's an employee out there who owns one. My mom says that if it weren't usually illegal, I'd be one of those people going around and fixing public signs. She's probably right.

    Reply
  118. Diana

    I have aphasia as a secondary condition to multiple sclerosis. I make mistakes all the time. I misspell words, use the wrong homonym, leave words out, etc. I also use words that are similar in spelling to the one that I want with one letter different such that the meaning of the sentence gets turned into nonsense. I do what I can to catch these mistakes before posting, but I almost always miss one or two.

    It would be nice if those who abhor typos and feel the need to correct idiots like me could develop a bit of compassion for those of us who struggle to make ourselves understood.

    Reply
  119. Anna

    They annoy the poop out of me because one of my day jobs is copy editor. I sometimes feel that I don't give great advice during my writing groups because all I want to do is point out all of the mixed verb tenses and missing oxford commas.

    To my mind, a writer has to be on top of his game when it comes to things like typos. When an editor or agent is looking for a reason to say no, why give them fodder?

    Reply
  120. Bob Norwicke

    Typos do not annoy me for two reasons. First, I make them all the time and sometimes I don't catch them for three or four re-reads. When I no longer make typos, I will wait for the world to catch up to my magnificence.
    Second, when I see a typo in a book or magazine, it gives me one more opportunity to say to myself, "I can do better than that," and I have one more reason to keep writing.

    Reply
  121. Laura K. Curtis

    Yes they annoy me. They annoy me a LOT. More grammar errors than obvious typos, though. The reason is the same one that bad writing annoys me. I buy a book to escape from my life into a story. Every grammatical glitch takes me OUT of the story and back into life.

    Reply
  122. Marilyn Peake

    Yes, because they take me out of the story. I've edited quite a few books and have trained myself to read carefully as I go along, noticing even misplaced commas. If a book is exceptionally good, I’ll let myself be taken out of the story and just get right back in again; and it won’t annoy me if there aren’t so many typos that it becomes difficult to stay in the story or trust that the writer is skilled.

    In today’s publishing world of many choices, I expect less typos from a book that costs more than $3 in eBook format and comes from a Big Six publishing house. If I’m dishing out much more than $3 for an eBook because a higher price is supposedly necessary to pay for good Editors, etc., I expect to get high-quality editing for my money. Popular authors like George R. R. Martin have immaculately edited novels – thousands of pages in a series and practically no typos. For that type of quality – sparkling prose that’s well-edited – I’ll happily plunk down the extra money. At this point, I’ve purchased so many self-published novels that are also immaculately edited but cost only 99 cents to $2.99, I know that I can find excellently edited novels from many publishing sources, and I hesitate to pay more money for lesser quality.

    Reply
  123. Aaron Morris

    Typos DO annoy me a bit. I'm okay with the occasional text talk, like abbreviations. Lol, ttfn, rofl! You know-but when people use improper grammar on Facebook it just…. Ugh, it's so awful!
    I especially loathe the confusion between "there" and "their", and "you're" and "your".
    It annoys me in books even more. And I know that if my book is ever considered for publishing, I'll need a copyeditor with veins of steel who can jump into my manuscript's jungle of improper wordage and comma use and slay them like Chuck Norris with a rubber-band. I'm awful at grammar and punctuation.
    But I think it annoys people like me because it's a BOOK. The actors don't stutter on the final airing of a TV show, singers don't fall off tempo during their song, so why should their be typos in novels? We think, "Aren't copyeditors like… superheros?!"
    Sorry, kids, Superman doesn't exist. But copyeditors DO work their butts off.

    Reply
  124. Kathryn Packer Roberts

    I actually just blogged about this. (http://kathrynpackerroberts.blogspot.com) Funny. As much as I may gripe from time to time about this, it doesn't normally bother me. It's just when I go through a whole bunch of blog posts and see it over and over that I wonder how many people actually re-read what they've written before posting. I mean, it doesn't take that much of an effort, I think.

    But are typos a sin?

    Okay, maybe not. =)

    Reply
  125. Caledonia Lass

    Typos annoy the heck out of me! I can't stand to see a really good book either riddled with typos or even just a few.
    Why?
    Two reasons:
    1) If the book is riddled with typos, it makes it seem like no one gave a rat's arse to even edit it. Why bother writing it if you aren't going to fix it? Does anyone even care or was the book just rushed out to make money, damn what the reader thinks…
    2) It jerks me away from the important part. The STORY. Glaring typos are like ice on the road, they send you off kilter, pell-mell into the side of the road and you have to pick up steam all over again.

    Reply
  126. Katherine Hyde

    Typos bother me. A lot. This is partly because I'm a copyeditor. Or it might be more true to say, I'm a copyeditor because typos bother me so much. It's kind of like looking at a picture that's hung just slightly crooked. A typo is a tiny piece of the universe out of order, and that bit of chaos could easily have been avoided.

    I do try not to publicly correct typos and other errors unless I've been asked to do so, because that's just obnoxious. I prefer to educate people instead (see my daily #grammartip on Twitter).

    Reply
  127. BP

    I am not a copy editor. I can't even pretend to be one. So, like you, I'm not quick to point fingers. But when it mars the meaning of the passage or book or sign etc., it's jarring, yes. I'm not single-handedly out to correct the illiteracy rates in America or to convince everyone who lives here that YES, WE ARE AN ENGLISH-SPEAKING LANGUAGE, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND BE A CONVENIENCE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD BY LEARNING TO SPEAK THE LIKE THE NATIVES DO, but yeah, if I were or if I knew someone who were, I would be understanding to their plight. It's values like theirs that keep America from collapsing into a sea of illiterate, low-level readers without any common knowledge or memory of good literature gone by.

    Reply
  128. J. T. Shea

    Of course Tipos annoy me! I hate all Fiat cars! Oh wait…

    Reply
  129. Sean Thomas Fisher

    Typos don't pull me out of a story at all. They may cause a brief hiccup but I get what they're trying to say and can easily move past it. Very few books I've read are perfect and that's okay with me. We're all human.

    Reply
  130. John Wiswell

    It depends on the text the typos appear in. If it's an informal blog post, I'll point them out to the author so her or she can fix it.

    If it's something I pay to read, it's a sign of improper editing, and thereby a sign that all possible effort was not put into the work. I never want to feel I paid money for even remotely lazy work.

    Reply
  131. Jenni Wiltz

    Yes, typos annoy me. It signifies a lack of professionalism, whether on the part of the editor, proofreader, or whoever's in charge. It makes me feel the book or article was rushed, which means the producers cared more about making money or hitting a deadline than creating quality work.

    Reply
  132. Carmen Webster Buxton

    I don't mind one or two in a book, but after that I lose patience. And typos are better than actual errors, such as when I go to the grocery and the sign over the aisle says "Can Fruit." I don't consider that a typo; the person who made that sign meant for it to say Can Fruit. I consider it a sign of the decay of Western Civilization.

    Reply
  133. Anonymous

    Nope. I'm with Sean Fisher…brief *hic…hic…hiccup" Unless the story is riddled with failures.

    Reply
  134. Will

    They do. I can understand that mistakes happen, and I make them all the time myself. I can also understand that even if there is a typo or two in a book, that's just one offending word out of thousands.

    But it is, as a few have said before, a "bump" just large enough to remove me from the immersion, to bring my head above water and disrupt the flow. I can admit that no one is perfect and therefore mistakes are inevitable, but they still get under my skin from time to time.

    Reply
  135. G

    I'm such a perfectionist when it comes to typos.

    I can barely tolerate my own typos, be it writing stories (granted, you have lots of time to get it right), or blogging (where you really have only one shot to get it right). But to see them in other people's writing, especially those that were self-pubbed, is just inexcusable.

    It usually kills whatever momentum or enjoyment I have of a story dead in its tracks.

    Reply
  136. ibisbill

    James Joyce asked himself that question, just before he sat down to write "Ulysses".

    So he came up with a trail-blazing solution.

    "I'll fill this book with so many typos" he said to himself, "that graduate students a hundred years from now will still be trying to figure out whether each word is actually a pun in three languages — English, Celtic and ancient Akkadian."

    Reply
  137. SueO

    I used to be disgusted but now I'm just amused. 🙂

    Reply
  138. Kathryn Magendie

    There's a lot of things that bothered me when I was naive and arrogant enough to sit on my high horse and go "Ha! I wouldn't do that/allow that/say that/be that/not do that, etc . . . "

    But when you are in the midst of it all yourself, then another tune comes whistling out between your puckered lips 😀

    So no, typos don't bother me – any more. 😀

    Reply
  139. Kathryn Magendie

    PS – and that comment of course wasn't directed to anyone's comments her e- I haven't even read them yet! "you and your" means of course "Mine and my" 😀 …

    okay – phew – needed to clarify that!

    Reply
  140. Jillian

    There is no excuse for a typo in a published book, at least that's my opinion. When I'm reading a novel and come across a typo, I become completely removed from the story and consumed with wanting to know how that could happen.

    Reply
  141. J.C. Martin

    Typos don't so much as annoy me as distract me from the flow of the story. Having said that, I also tend to feel clever for spotting one. 🙂 But seriously, if a book was professionally published, with all the time, effort and money spent on layouts, cover designs, etc., you'd think they'd invest in a good copyeditor to weed out those pesky typos. After all, it's all about presentation: typos = sloppy.

    Reply
  142. Robert Carraher

    Typos of the variety of "Do" when it should have been "To" or "This" when it should have been "His" bug the hell out of me. those are the speed bumps. The average garden varity of "expereince" or "freind" not so much. I have noticed a lot of the "this" "his" type in eBooks, but then again, I get sent a lot of ebooks and probably read more eBooks than print books anymore.

    Reply
  143. Sheila Cull

    Splitinfitev's?! I know how to do those too!

    Reply
  144. Larry B. Gray

    Yes I find them very distracting especially when they are mine.

    Reply
  145. JM Leotti

    I notice them. I'm guilty of committing them. In books they make me wonder how much I'm supposed to know before I submit my manuscript.

    A friend of mine who has published seven novels told me once that he doesn't worry about "that stuff." And still I'm left with the question, how much grammar, for example, are writers supposed to know? How much work do you give a copy editor?

    For the record, I try to submit as clean a copy as possible, erring on the safe side. Still, I'm very curious if someone like you, Nathan, admits to not knowing "a dangling modifier from a split infinitive." Are editors/agents that forgiving?

    Great topic. Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  146. Anonymous

    Typos are annoying but forgivable in casual writing, but in professional writing they are a sign of laziness and disrespect for the reader. It is rare that I pick up any published work lately and don't find multiple, glaring, and distracting typos, and I admit it angers me. I think it is evidence that writers and editors don't take pride in their work.
    On blogs and in comments sections, when I see many typos and misspellings, I tend to discount that writer's ideas.

    Reply
  147. Robin

    I think that all writing deserves at least a casual backwards glance in an attempt to prevent typos; more formal writing deserves multiple glances. In a printed book, a missing word, for example, takes me slightly out of the story, but I'll attribute it to the publisher and one incident won't particularly bother me. Incorrect punctuation turns me off the whole thing entirely–it reflects on the author, alerting me to a likely lack of attention to language in their writing style. I would certainly put a book down if I noticed grammar and punctuation issues within the first chunk of pages.

    Reply
  148. Kalen

    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

    Reply
  149. Jenn

    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.

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  150. Jenn

    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. :

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  151. R.D. Allen

    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

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  152. Anne R. Allen

    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.

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  153. Robert Carraher

    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.

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  154. McKenzie McCann

    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.

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  155. Marcia Richards

    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.

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  156. Jenny

    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.

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  157. medussa74

    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?

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  158. Cyndy Aleo

    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.

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  159. Jess

    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.

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  160. Nancy Lauzon

    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.

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  161. Jil

    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..

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  162. Natalie

    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.

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  163. Sherryl

    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!

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  164. Anonymous

    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 .

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  165. Anonymous

    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.

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  166. Frank Cote

    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.

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  167. NickerNotes

    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.

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  168. Chazz

    Funny timing. I just wrote a blog post about predictions for the future of books (http://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.

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  169. Anonymous

    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.

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  170. Ulysses

    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.

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  171. Laur

    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.

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  172. Kath

    Did you mean 'exorcized'?

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  173. Carlye Knight

    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!

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  174. Heather

    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!

    Reply
  175. Patti

    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.

    Reply
  176. Renee G

    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.)

    Reply
  177. Tom Bentley

    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…

    Reply
  178. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
  179. Deniz Bevan

    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 (!))

    Reply
  180. C.Smith

    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.

    Reply
  181. Jesse

    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.

    Reply
  182. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply

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ABOUT NATHAN

Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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