As a young accountant, one of our responsibilities was to read to a colleague revised versions of annual accounts to ensure there were no errors. I always wanted to be the caller and not the reader. I would never see an error. My brain doesn’t work that way. Maybe I scan, or flick read. Whatever, I see the sense of words and not the detail. The detail can escape me the same way, as Annie will tell you, I once failed to notice a helicopter in a field by our walk

A ‘big picture’ mentality has obvious advantages when scoping a plot or argument but not when it comes to the important part of the writing process, publishing.

I have a very good friend whose brain works twice as fast as his fingers and all his emails require deep analysis to understand their meaning. What adjacent keys could he have been typing? What auto-correct could a mistype have generated?

With my books, I have an editor, Jess Edwards a brilliant guy who lives in Canada. Editing is a creative art and a great editor can make an ordinary text brilliant, but Jess also does the heavy lifting and proofreads the books.

That is fine for books, but these essays are all my own work and as I get close to publishing I start to fret and worry. I read a document two, three or four times. Each time I will make minor changes.  I use a spell checker and go over it with Grammarly.  I preview it in the web browser going through the whole process again. It is always with trepidation that I hit the publish button.

Then, like many of you, I receive the post as an email. I like to check the process has worked and I am mortified if I see a mistake. It always stands out and looks so obvious I can’t imagine how I missed it.

I am sure you also see them, and I hope that at worst you simply tut-tut and carry on reading. You don’t think about retribution. While my typos and mistakes are no more than a blow to my ego to others their typos have proved to be both expensive and embarrassing.

We can argue conspiracy, but we know it was cock-up when a news release from the White House said this week that Iran “has” an ongoing nuclear weapons programme. Precisely the statement said, Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program”.

Later they said that it should have read “had”. But hey, wars have started for less than that. Given that Trump seems to send his tweets unedited and without a spell check why should his staff do more?

And in May 2017 the White House listed the President’s goals before a trip to Israel and included, “promote the possibility of lasting peach”. I think this is taking GM foods too far. It was on a different trip that he flew on Air Force Once.

It is easy to pick on the White House and President Trump. They publish vast amounts of information every day and all of it is going to be read, in detail. All their errors will be highlighted, but does anyone know what ‘covfefe‘ is?

The web loves digging out the amusing typo. Think what happens to a large banner promoting a partnership in public education when the ‘L’ in public disappears. Pubic education is a whole different event.

‘Gs’ have gone from Angus Beef, as have ‘Fs’from political debates shifting to Congress. A Preface to a book has become a Peeface. Pork and Beans are far better when served as Porn and Beans. And the final indignity was the education authority who asked if “school is two easy for kids?”

The internet is full of these, but some have a financial impact.

The Wicked Bible was published in 1631 and now only 11 copies exist. It was withdrawn, and the publisher never paid. It may have been perfect but there was one very obvious error when they left out a ‘not’ in the seventh commandment encouraging us all to commit adultery.”

It’s not just that a good proofread can turn an average document into something far better but it can stop you being ridiculed and save you money. This is a selection identified by Marcia Yudkin

  • In 2004, Judge Jacob P. Hart of Philadelphia slashed the fee due to an attorney in half because of overabundant typos. The lawyer lost $31,350.
  • In Britain, DDS Media had to destroy 10,000 spelling game DVDs whose cover misspelt TV anchor Eamonn Holmes’ name.
  • A Wisconsin-based editor paid an executive recruiter $1,720 to spruce up her resume and send it to 200 potential employers, only to learn that the resumes went out containing a section of gibberish. The editor sued the headhunter for more than $75,000.
  • In 2005, a trader on the Tokyo stock exchange intended to trade 1 share at 610,000 yen, but instead placed an order for 610,000 shares at 1 yen each. The firm’s loss: around $18.7 million

Time to press publish. Here’s hoping …..

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