The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course contains a list of examples of costly spelling errors for you to dip into whenever you find yourself confronted with the old, “I don’t need a proof reader, I’ve got spell-checking software” chestnut.
Prepare to add another to that list. And it’s a whopper.
A single typo recently cost Penguin Group Australia $20,000.
That’s right. $20,000: the cost of pulping and reprinting 7,000 copies of the bestselling Pasta Bible.
And what spelling error or grammatical gaffe could be so awful as to warrant such an expensive solution? Surely it can’t be that bad?
A recipe for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto instructed the amateur chef to add to the otherwise wholesome and inviting ingredients “salt and freshly ground black people”.
And don’t forget to tell your but-we-have-spell-checking-software nemesis that $20,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of man-hours of frantic public relations activity will have been spent in an effort to undo the offense this particularly nasty little error will undoubtedly have caused.
In true CSI fashion, let’s reconstruct this horrible, horrible crime.
Imagine you’re typing the word ‘pepper’. You’re not concentrating. Perhaps your stomach is rumbling at the thought of the spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto you’re going to rustle up when you get home. You type the first ‘p’, then the ‘e’. So far, so good.
Then disaster strikes.
Instead of tapping the ‘p’ next, you hit the ‘o’ immediately adjacent to it. It’s easily done. You don’t even notice the error and continue to type the remaining ‘e’ and ‘r’.
Now, instead of ‘pepper’, you’ve got ‘peoper’.
You run your trusty spell-checking software through the copy and it highlights your error. You scroll through the list of possible replacements and, somehow (maybe you’re really starving by now) your curser alights not on ‘pepper’ as it should but on ‘people’.
And you’ve sealed your doom.
“How do you feel about your spell-checking software now, Mr Nemesis? Hmm? Hmm?”
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My name's Mike Sellars and I'm an experienced proofreader and the author of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course. Click here to find out more about me.
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“As someone who has been proofreading for 30 years, I found Mike’s course an invaluable introduction and a very useful practical guide to many aspects of the discipline. I can wholeheartedly recommend it.” Jeremy Meehan, Proofreader.
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