A typographical error
is a mistake made during, originally, the manual type-setting
) of printed material, or more recently, the typing
process. The term includes errors due to mechanical failure or slips of the hand or finger, but excludes errors of ignorance. Before the arrival of printing, the "copyist's mistake" was the equivalent for manuscripts
. Most typos involve simple duplication, omission, transposition, or substitution of a small number of characters.
Though the term "typo" excludes errors of ignorance, it is common to find it used as a euphemism to describe instances of poor spelling, punctuation, or grammar, such as accidentally typing a homophone.
A typographical error is distinct from an orthographical error; the latter is characterised by incorrect usage of language.
Certain typos, or kinds of typos, have achieved widespread notariety and are occasionally used diliberately for humorous purposes. For instance, the British newspaper The Guardian
is sometimes referred to as The Grauniad
for its apparent frequent typesetting errors in the era before computer typesetting, begun as a running joke in the satirical magazine Private Eye
. 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.
Typosquatting is a form of cybersquatting
which relies on typographical errors made by Internet users. 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. 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, emissions, double strike, 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.
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 massages in haste and only afterwards notice the typo. It is common practice to correct the typo by sending a subsequent massage where an asterisk precedes or follows the correct word. For example:
Gabilicious: did u ese her?
Gabilicious: u see*
In such forms of teletype as 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, for example:
WE'LL DISCUSS DESSERT WHEN I RETRUN XXX RETURN.
In formal prose it is sometimes necessary to accurately quote text which may contain 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.