Typographical error

Typographical error
A typographical omission of the word "not" in the sentence "Thou shalt not commit adultery." This printing of the Bible has become known as the Wicked Bible.

A typographical error (often shortened to typo) is a mistake made in, originally, the manual type-setting (typography) of printed material, or more recently, the typing process. The term includes errors due to mechanical failure or slips of the hand or finger,[1] but usually excludes errors of ignorance, such as spelling errors. Before the arrival of printing, the "copyist's mistake" or "scribal error" was the equivalent for manuscripts. Most typos involve simple duplication, omission, transposition, or substitution of a small number of characters.

The term fat finger, often in combination with "fat-finger syndrome", is used as slang to refer to the invocation of a unwanted secondary action due to (a) one's finger being bigger than the envisioned touch zone, or (b) accidental inaccuracy in the fine motor movements of one's extremities. In general terms, for example, pressing a different button than expected on a touchscreen, or hitting two adjacent keys on a keyboard in a single keystroke during data entry (for example, buckled instead of bucked due to the adjacency of the L key to the K key on many keyboards). Especially in light of the trend in e.g. mobile phones always getting smaller, the etymology for the fat finger term may root in the fact that users with naturally-grown big fingers, as well as obese users, are one of the first groups to run into problems of this miniaturization.


"Intentional" typos

Certain typos, or kinds of typos, have achieved widespread notoriety and are occasionally used deliberately for humorous purposes. For instance, the British newspaper The Guardian is sometimes referred to as The Grauniad due to its reputation for frequent typesetting errors in the era before computer typesetting.[2] This usage began as a running joke in the satirical magazine Private Eye.[3] The magazine continues to refer to The Guardian by this name to this day.

Typos are common on the internet in chatrooms, Usenet and the World Wide Web and some, such as "teh", "pwned", and "pron" have become in-jokes among Internet groups and subcultures.[4]


Typosquatting is a form of cybersquatting which relies on typographical errors made by Internet users.[5] Typically, the cybersquatter will register a plausible typo of a well-known website address in hopes of receiving traffic when Internet users mistype that address into a web browser. Deliberately introducing typos into a web page, or into its metadata, can also draw unwitting visitors when they enter these typos in Internet search engines.

Typos in online auctions

Since the emergence and popularization of online auction sites such as eBay, misspelled auction searches have quickly become a gold mine for deal hunters.[6] The concept on which these searches are based is that if an individual posts an auction and misspells its description and/or title, regular searches will not find this auction. However, a search which includes misspelled alterations of the original search term in such a way as to create misspellings, transpositions, omissions, double strikes, and wrong key errors would find most misspelled auctions. The resulting effect is that there are far fewer bids than there would be under normal circumstances allowing for the searcher to obtain the item for less. A series of third party web sites have sprung up allowing people to find these items.[7]

Marking typos

Correction fluid is used to correct typographical errors after the document is printed.

When using a typewriter without correction tape, typos are commonly overstruck with another character such as a slash. This saves the typist the trouble of retyping the entire page to eliminate the error, but as evidence of the typo remains, it is not aesthetically pleasing.

In instant messaging, users often send messages in haste and only afterwards notice the typo. It is common practice to correct the typo by sending a subsequent message where an asterisk precedes or follows the correct word.[8]

In such forms of teleprinter that have no backspace or delete key (particularly those that use Baudot code), an error that is caught immediately will be followed by 'X' repeated a few times, as a sort of representation of the mistake being exed out, with the correct spelling following,[citation needed] for example:

This js XXXX is an example.

In formal prose it is sometimes necessary to quote accurately text containing typos. In such cases, the author will usually write "[sic]" to indicate that an error was in the original quoted source rather than in the transcription.[9]


A thumbo is a typographical error made during thumb typing, especially on the keypads of cellphones and smartphones. With minimal spacing in between alphabets on thumbing keypads, one tends to type wrong letters, thus the error. The word is a portmanteau of "thumb" and "typo".[10]


  1. ^ "Wordnet definition". Wordnet. Princeton University. http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=Typographical+error&sub=Search+WordNet&o2=&o0=1&o7=&o5=&o1=1&o6=&o4=&o3=&h=. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  2. ^ Taylor, Ros (2000-09-12). "Internet know-how: Spelling". Guardian Unlimited. http://education.guardian.co.uk/old/schools/story/0,,367177,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  3. ^ Lyall, Sarah (1998-02-16). "Confession as Strength At a British Newspaper". New York Times. The New York Times Company. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940CE3DD1F3CF935A25751C0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  4. ^ Marsden, Rhodri (2006-10-18). "What do these strange web words mean?". Independent Online. Independent News & Media. Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. http://web.archive.org/web/20071215014940/http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20061018/ai_n16782823. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Bob (2000-09-23). "'Typosquatters' turn flubs into cash". ZDNet. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. http://web.archive.org/web/20071024032834/http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-502915.html?legacy=zdnn. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  6. ^ KING5 Staff (2004-07-01). "How finding mistakes can net great deals on eBay". King5. KING-TV. Archived from the original on 2007-12-20. http://web.archive.org/web/20071220190352/http://www.king5.com/business/stories/NW_070104BUBebaytipEL.2b7cc3d91.html. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  7. ^ Douglas Quenqua (2008-11-23). "Help for eBay Shoppers Who Can’t Spell". NYT. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/24/business/media/24typo.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=typos%20ebay&st=cse. 
  8. ^ Magnan, Sally Sieloff (2008). Mediating discourse online. AILA Applied Linguistics Series. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 260. ISBN 9789027205193. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=dbYbGsgJclgC&lpg=PA260&vq=asterisk&pg=PA260#v=snippet&q=asterisk&f=false. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Kenneth G. (1993). "sic (adv.)". The Columbia Guide to Standard American English.. Columbia University Press. http://www.bartleby.com/68/67/5467.html. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  10. ^ http://www.wordspy.com/words/thumbo.asp

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • typographical error — Synonyms and related words: clerical error, corrigendum, erratum, error, failure, fault, faute, human error, misapprehension, miscalculation, miscarriage, misconception, miscount, misdeal, misidentification, misjudgment, misplay, misprint,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • typographical error — noun a mistake in printed matter resulting from mechanical failures of some kind • Syn: ↑misprint, ↑erratum, ↑typo, ↑literal error, ↑literal • Derivationally related forms: ↑misprint (for: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • typographical error — The error of a printer in setting type. Thompson v Alexander City Cotton Mills Co. 190 Ala 184, 67 So 407. In loose usage, the error of a stenographer in typing …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • typographical error — a printer s error, an incorrect spelling made in type setting. This may have significance in nomenclature …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • typographical error — an error in printed or typewritten matter resulting from striking the improper key of a keyboard, from mechanical failure, or the like. * * * …   Universalium

  • typographical error — typograph′ical er′ror n. pri an error in printed or typewritten matter resulting from a mistake in typing or from mechanical failure …   From formal English to slang

  • typographical error — noun A mistake made during the process of typing, especially one caused by a slip of the fingers; often shortened to typo …   Wiktionary

  • typographical error —   Pa i hewa …   English-Hawaiian dictionary

  • error — error, mistake, blunder, slip, lapse, faux pas, bull, howler, boner are comparable when they denote something (as an act, statement, or belief) that involves a departure from what is, or what is generally held to be, true, right, or proper. Error …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Typographical syntax — Typographical syntax, also known as orthotypography,[citation needed] is the aspect of typography that defines the meaning and rightful usage of typographic signs, notably punctuation marks, and elements of layout such as flush margins and… …   Wikipedia

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