Editors here at TCR fix errors in our books, whether they were included by the author or accidentally created as the book went through the typesetting process. We’re all human and we all make mistakes, but with the help of proofreaders, we hope that we can find and fix all the errors before the books are printed.

Of course, it’s a lot easier for all involved when we can find and fix the errors right away. They happen for all kinds of reasons. My favorites are the errors caused by an author who might innocently use the “change all” function when performing a spell check. Spell check doesn’t always change things as intended. A recent book I edited had references to “the priests and the celery” (rather than clergy) and “the eruption of Mr. Vesuvius.”

It can be really frustrating when something slips past the editor and the proofreaders and is included in the printed book. We all have examples that we’ve found over the years. I always remember the math book which had a graph about animal life expectancy that indicated that rats live a leisurely twenty years while cats only make it to about the age of four.

A few months ago, our editor-in-chief gave me a page from one of our new standardized test books. A customer had emailed that she and her child could not figure out how to complete the following chart, which appeared at the top of the page.

I couldn’t figure it out, and I’m pretty familiar with math. I took a lot of it in school, and my parents were both math teachers (and occasionally my math teachers). So I figured that I should have been able to complete a simple fifth-grade math problem. I had another editor try the problem, and she was stumped, too. We were both coming up with elaborate possible solutions, and had to remind ourselves that this was a book for fifth graders, and the author was a perfectly nice woman who was not out to make kids cry.

We finally decided to contact the author, and in the meantime, I was able to dig up the original page that the author sent to us. It turned out that the chart was typeset incorrectly, and no one noticed. This is what the chart should have looked like:

So much easier! Add the numbers in the second and third rows to get the numbers in the first row. Multiply the numbers in the second and third rows to get the number in the fourth row.

We really do appreciate when customers email us about the errors they have found in our books. We can usually change the page fairly quickly, send the customer a PDF of the corrected page, and include the corrected page when the book is reprinted. That way, the next fifth grader who encounters this chart won’t be quite as frustrated.

One thought on “Typos”

  1. Sylvia

    As a mathematics teacher I have never relied on the answers at the back of the book. Students have to show how they arrived at the answer they got…and sometimes it isn’t the one given by the author. The class made a game of it…finding errors. The rule of this game is that finding an error and proving why it is an error gains you extra credit. Some English errors are just “funny” and even that laugh is worth something. No one is perfect and we all learn by our mistakes.

    Kudos to TCR for responding to users of their books when an error is found and sent to the publishers. I like the idea of reserarching the error and sending a corrected page in pdf form. More publishers should be this responsive.

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