Saturday, January 24, 2009

Things I Hate: My Own Typos

I apologize, sincerely and completely, to everyone who has read this blog. Every last one of you deserves a medal for slogging through the forest of typos that result from my vague attempts at communication in English. (If I stuck to my native Gibberish I'd probably be just fine.)

Typos are my bane. There are probably still a few in this post that I haven't found. Yet.

Let me tell you a story...

An hour ago I exchanged email with a friend (hi Steve!) and former coworker - a technical writer - with whom I hadn't conversed in a long time. It turns out he has a blog. Naturally I read through some of his blog in the process of this communication. His writing is good. I've added his blog to my RSS reader.

With some trepidation I told him that I, too, kept a blog. A few minutes later he told me that he'd added my blog to his RSS tool. (The main attraction being the picture of me with a fork suspended from my nose.) Uh-oh. Now Steve's a nice guy, but look at it from my point of view: I've got a professional writer reading my blog. This'll be "interesting". I'd better go look at it real quick. From the outside.

And the first thing I noted was that I hadn't posted in 12 days. Even without Steve there as a motivator, that was not good, and I needed to remedy that. The previous - basically content free - post was the result. OK, fine. At least you know I'm still alive.

Then I went back and re-read the post I'd just written and published. Typos. Typo city! And Steve is out there lurking. He really is a nice guy, and I probably won't get email telling me that I have used "it's" where I meant "its" for the 10,000th time. But I could get that email. If not from him then from a few others that have been known to "express themselves" to me in the past. (Hi David.)

So I edited the post and fixed the typos I could find, including the gross spelling errors that spell check was warning me about when I typed the thing up in the first place. sigh.

Then I checked a few of the older posts, just to see how I'd been doing on the typo front.

Suffice it to say that if this was a war between me and the typos, they'd overrun my position years ago, taken my HQ, sacked my supply houses, moved in, married, had kids, and sent them to college. There were a LOT of typos out there.

So I fixed what I found in various older posts. I didn't get to them all, alas, and I probably missed some in the posts I did review. What can I say, though. I don't have hours and hours to spend at it right now, and finding my own typos is just about as easy as performing brain surgery on myself.

But once again I must apologize to all of you who risk reading my words. I'm not nearly as illiterate as they make me look. Honestly! Please accept this blog entry - even if it too is crawling with grammatical boo-boos - in the spirit of contrition in which it is intended.

Special thanks to Steve for causing this, even if it was entirely unintentional on his part. If you want a link to your blog in here, Steve, just ask.

I guess there was one benefit to finding all those typos: I got to add another post to my "Things I Hate" series.

(Now to proofread this before hitting the "publish post" button... shudder.)


  1. Oh boy.

    You're putting too much pressure on yourself, not to mention too much pressure on me. My own internet ramblings are full of all kinds of typos. I fix them when I catch them, but I don't let them ruin my day.

    Written communications come in at least four forms. First are scribbles to yourself. Grammar and spelling go right out the window.

    Second are casual internet communications; e-mails, blog postings, postings to online forums. Here you want to be within spitting distance of good writing techniques, but really no one expects perfection for things written off-the-cuff and without aid of proof readers.

    Third comes formal communications that aren't being formally edited. This includes school papers, reports for work, specifications and an awful lot of technical communication (many companies gave up on editors a long time ago). Here, you care about your typos and you go out of your way to fix them, but people aren't paying you to get it 100% correct, nor are they giving you the time to do that, so there will be errors.

    Fourth are important published documents (great works of literature, legal briefs, etc) that had better be right. These take a long time to produce for a reason.

    All of which is my long-winded way of saying that I have typos in my blogs posts (and e-mails and even technical documents), but I don't worry about them. Nor do I go looking for typos in other people's electronic communications. So long as I know what you mean, I don't really care how you conveyed your message. Hopefully, neither do you.

    There, now that I've bored you, I'd better go get the kids breakfast. And, no, I didn't read this comment over for language mistakes so don't judg me bai itt, mon! :)

  2. No pressure was intended on you, Steve. The pressure is all mine.

    I write these things, read them, reread them, and reread them trying to get them right. If I can I even read them aloud, which helps me find missing or added words that result from in-line editing gone bad.

    But despite all that effort, when I go back and reread something I wrote a few days or weeks ago I am inevitably dumbfounded at the number of typos present.

    Oh well. It's not the end of the world, but it sure is irritating.


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