4 Typos To Rule them All

Have you ever stopped to consider just how important typos are? Well… you have now!

Writing another article, huh?

Why Typos are So Important to Everything

OK, so as I write this I’ve just put the finishing touches on my next book – In Practice, Moving Beyond Law School Theory.

When I say “finishing touches” what I really mean, of course, is that I got it to the point where I couldn’t really stand to read it again.

Having been read through by a number of people, including myself, on multiple occasions I consider the chances that there are no typos in the book to be extremely remote.

There are a few things I know about already that people will think were typos, but were conscious decisions to go with a particular spelling (like the word “distill’ for example). But, beyond that, I am fairly sure that there will simply be a number of actual errors.

So on the one hand, typos are considered universally bad, and they should be avoided at all costs.

On the other hand – if I was so paralysed by typos, the chances I would ever publish my first book, let alone my second, would be NIL.

Let’s take a look at both ends of the spectrum.

Catestrophic Typos

In 2009, a 124 year old successful engineering firm Taylor & Sons Ltd was, shockingly, confused with company Taylor and Son Ltd.

Unfortunately the confusion took place in the Companies House, who wrongly reported that the firm had been wound up.

They sought to correct it three days later – but the damage was done.

Thousands of customers and suppliers all lost confidence in the engineering firm.  Within weeks, it is reported that 3000 orders were withdrawn.

The company was doomed.

Because of a typo.

Important much?

Stupid Typos

Of course, sometimes people just don’t bother reading things, and as a result they end up with stupid typos that aren’t caught.

This is when you type “teh” instead of “the”.

It’s when you can’t be bothered reading a sentence again to find out that you used the word “affect” instead of “effect”.

It’s when you write “Mr Drew” in a letter to a lady called Nancy.

These are the lazy end of legal practice.  Sure, these errors happen and it’s not always an indictment on your intellect, but ideally your systems work so as to avoid these.

Lucky Typos

Sometimes typos can give you a nice feeling in your stomach though.

This is where there has been a “bank error in your favour” and you inadvertently end up with someone’s account number in dollars hitting your account on a Monday morning.

Of course, you have to give the money back.

But for a few minutes you get to sit back with a smile on your face and think about what you’d do if you didn’t.

Fear of Typos

Despite all of these, I genuinely believe that the most insidious form of typo isn’t any of those. By far the worst form of typo is the one that stops you getting things done.

Can things go wrong with typos? Sure.

It is pretty bad if you forget the word “not” in an important place?  Absolutely (how about just before the word “guilty”).

But it’s the fear of those things happening that prevent so many people doing so much stuff.

It’s the fear that keeps you reading a letter that you’ve drafted, read, re-read and ultra-read.

It’s the fear that stops you from publishing an awesome article quickly.  Instead you sit on it and read it over and over until everyone else in the world has already covered what used to be breaking news.

So are there going to be typos in this article? In my next book? In other things I write?

Yes.

But I’m going to do them anyway.

What’s your worst typo?  Help me feel better about myself and let me know in the comments!

Happy Lawyering!

  • I once signed off an email with “Kind Retards”. The proximity of the T and G keys was the true culprit.

  • It’s ironic that the article contains the sort of typo that is least easily caught: a word properly spelled that is nevertheless the wrong word.
    In the sentence, “There are a few things I know about already that people with think were typos, ” the word “with” should have been “will.” Or so it seems to me.

  • I once wrote a letter of demand that was intended to use the word ‘tortious’ to describe the acts of the other party. Unfortunately I spelt the word ‘tortuous’, which not only made me look silly but made the solicitors for the other party write that no damages were available in Australian law for tortuous conduct (implying I was an idiot who did not know what he was talking about). Even to this day I google the word tortious before I use it in order to avoid repeating the same mistake.

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