NPR logo Seen Any Good Typo's Lately?

Sound Off

Seen Any Good Typo's Lately?


What's wrong with this picture? Tricia McKinney/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Tricia McKinney/NPR

Jeff Deck
and the Typo Eradication Advancement League are wandering the country, even as we speak, bringing the red pen of justice to typos everywhere.

Seen any? Tricia McKinney spotted the one above. After the jump, one from David Hollis of Hamilton, New York, and Radio Free Hamilton.


Nice sign. But this is North Brookfield. David Hollis hide caption

toggle caption David Hollis



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I can't tell if the title to this blog post is supposed to be ironic or not.

Sent by Greg | 1:48 PM | 3-6-2008

I grabbed this pic of a newly installed sign in Upstate New York. The community is North Brookfield and NOT Northbrook Field.

Instead of correcting it, the NYS DOT removed it ... although they left the one on the opposite side of the road up!

Sent by David Hollis, Hamilton, NY | 2:00 PM | 3-6-2008

Greg, since this is NPR, you can rest assured that it is irony.

[Just as you can assume this is the NPR website because people (like myself) are blogging about punctuation. PUNCTUATION, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!]

Sent by Phillip | 2:34 PM | 3-6-2008

this is the moast unintresting story yall have ever done. GRATE JOB EN PEE ARE.

Sent by juhrehl | 3:47 PM | 3-6-2008

This is the greatest thing ever. I have always dreamed of doing something like this.

Sent by Michelle | 1:03 AM | 3-7-2008

At a used car lot: "Your approved!"

Sent by djo | 1:17 PM | 3-7-2008

I love this whole idea. One has only to read other blogs to realize that much of the US can neither spell nor punctuate. Your and you're are used interchangeably; ditto there, their and they're. And don't even get me started on the pronunciation of the word height as heighth.

Sent by Donna | 1:20 PM | 3-7-2008

I work in a hospital -- and no building has more signs and posters than a hospital, so I have great fun every day. I just walked out of my office to this huge poster; in one corner they report on a liason, Mr. Cunnigham and the American College of Surgeon's Commission on Cancer (a college of one, how extraordinary!) I was afraid to read the rest of it.

Sent by Susan | 2:07 PM | 3-7-2008

In addition to the your/you're and there/their/they're debaucles, my biggest pet peeve is misused quotation marks.

Some people think quotation marks are for emphasis. I believe I saw a sign once that said: "PLEASE" wash your hands.

Who are they quoting?

Sent by Angela Vetri | 2:09 PM | 3-7-2008

I read/see so many I can't stand it, it has just aboot put me over the tpo. Thank you for saving us all!!

Sent by Sue | 2:14 PM | 3-7-2008

In a Macy's store, in big letters: Spring at it's best

Sent by Ann Wimmer | 2:40 PM | 3-7-2008

Angela Vetri, it's "Whom" are they quoting, not "Who...."!

Sent by Joseph | 3:28 PM | 3-7-2008

Hurray for TEAL! I, too, am fed up with poor spelling and bad grammar. I'm also tired of the apostrophe being incorrectly placed, i.e., Steven's instead of Stevens'. With computerized spell check, putting a spelling error in print on a sign is inexcusable.

Sent by Tamara S. | 3:43 PM | 3-7-2008

A pet peeve of mine: years that are possessive, for example 1990's.

Sent by lisa | 4:18 PM | 3-7-2008

I too fully support TEAL. I read and loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. I enjoy spotting silly mistakes on signs and menus, then laughing about them with my similarly judgmental friends.

However, I write software manuals for a living and inevitably make some mistakes. And the joy it brings to be the corrector is far outstripped by the despair of being the correctee. I get so angry at myself!

Sent by Maura | 4:53 PM | 3-7-2008

Oooh, lisa, that reminds me of a story!

Years ago I worked at "The View," and we were doing some fashion or makeover segment about looks from different decades. Somebody ordered graphics to read "60's," "70's," "80's," etc. I jumped right into the fight against those apostrophes and EVERYONE piled on me! People pointed out smugly that the NY Times uses an apostrophe there. I pointed out smugly that the NY Times is wrong.

The words "plurals" and "possessives" were flung about with increasing fervor from both sides of the debate. Finally my immediate boss, speaking to me as though I were a 4th grader, told me that the apostrophe was necessary and I would see it if only I would imagine the digits as a kind of abbreviation of the words "sixties," "seventies," "eighties," etc. I challenged him to write out those words and show me where the apostrophe goes. Light dawned. I tasted sweet victory. But it was brief.

They made the graphics wrong anyway because it was decided that even though it was wrong, it was what people were used to seeing.

Being a grammar and spelling stickler is exhausting!

Sent by Tricia, NPR | 4:56 PM | 3-7-2008

It's a good thing that Jeff Deck is working in writing medium and not radio. I can't remember the last interview I heard with more "you knows" in it, you know?

Sent by Dennis | 7:24 PM | 3-7-2008

I'd like to point out that most of these errors are not truly typos! "Typo" is short for "typological error," which is a mistake caused by inadvertent keystrokes while typing. Apostrophe's do not get abused by accident. (That was intentional and ironic, BTW.) I say call them what they are: examples of bad grammar!

Sent by Steve | 2:19 PM | 3-8-2008

please come visit me in Russia...there's plenty of typos you can work on.

Sent by josh | 10:51 AM | 3-9-2008

Seen any good typo's lately?
I, also, actually spelled it this way. But I may be wrong or my usage may vary.

Sent by d | 12:41 AM | 3-10-2008

I teach college English -- so I live in a swirling haze of typos!

One of my favorites was in a report on social customs in Poland, wherein a student claims that "alcohol severs an important function for Poles." A bit naughty, but then some of the best typos do produce a double entendre.

My most frequent typo (which I suspect is due to over-reliance on spellcheckers to correct our every oops) is often appended to an "I won't be in class today" missive: "Please pardon the incontinence."

Sent by Alexandria Casey | 5:30 PM | 3-10-2008

Somewhere in my collection of newspaper clippings, I have a photo of a newly-installed highway exit sign in the Tampa Bay area. The 5 foot by 10 foot sign said "St. Petersbug"

Sent by Joan | 12:46 PM | 3-11-2008

By coincidence, I recently snapped this photo of a sign outside a salon in Chicago offering the "flat tot" haircut.

Sent by Joe Germuska | 2:36 PM | 3-11-2008

My physical therapist's office had a question on the new patient questionaire asking if I had ever had any prostrate problems.

Sent by Dana Bibro | 9:16 PM | 3-12-2008

The absolute greatest typo I ever saw was in my hometown, Greenwood, IN. A Chinese restaurant had expanded and added a buffet. When they were open the sign said, "Granding Open."

Sent by Cari Holloway | 9:46 PM | 3-12-2008

Our ad agency once received a cover letter from an applicant who claimed to possess "excellent poofreading skills."

Sent by Randy Rains, The Team, Inc. | 10:10 PM | 3-12-2008

I love obsessive compulsive spellers. Throw in a innocent typo and they just wail about the office.
Be advised... There are drugs that will take care of this problem.

Sent by Gregg | 10:24 PM | 3-12-2008

Where do I sign up, got a facebook group? We need our own TEAL here Down Under, by crikey!!!

Sent by marty in Sydney | 10:32 PM | 3-12-2008

i have two stories about self-deprecating typo's from my beloved miami, florida. years ago, some devil-worshipper in coconut grove tried to promote his point of view on a vinyl & chain link fence by spraying "SATIN 666" on it, an absolute masterpiece in idiocy. then once, in a supermarket on key biscayne, i saw the classic thanksgiving dessert promoted as "punking pie," exactly as it is pronounced by the majority of our population.

Sent by Natalie Morales | 10:41 PM | 3-12-2008

My new boss was the VP of Developement; he changed his title to 'VP of Engineering' so he could get new business cards.

Sent by Richard Letts | 1:30 AM | 3-13-2008

I am currently residing in China, and I assure you that Mr. Deck could spend a lifetime here.

I see examples like this every day:

Granted, I have a great deal of sympathy as learning Chinese is just as difficult for Westerners as English is for their Asian counterparts.

Sent by Collin | 5:03 AM | 3-13-2008

I also recommend Brian Sach's Grammar Cop archive on his website Banterist. The Coney Island Crime Spree is amazing.

Sent by Sarah Scheuler | 10:20 AM | 3-13-2008

Let's get it right. It's typos, not typo's!

Sent by T Moser | 10:27 AM | 3-13-2008

The best typos and hilarious mis-spellings are on eBay. One woman who sells clothing consistently spells sequins as sequence.

Sent by Sue | 11:13 AM | 3-13-2008

Of course there is the absolute best that you see on TV at least once a day, "I'm lovin it"

Sent by A concerned Big Mac attacker | 11:28 AM | 3-13-2008

On a billboard in the Indianapolis area: "Live Debt Free!" Is there a charge for the dead debt?

Sent by the self-explaining compound police | 12:13 PM | 3-13-2008

At Whole Foods Market, they have developed a new bag called a Better Bag. The words Better Bag are written on the side of the bag. The top line says Bet-, the next line -ter, and the next is Bag. Why are there two -'s?

Sent by Sara Potapenko | 1:04 PM | 3-13-2008

People that spell LOSE as LOOSE drive me crazy.

Sent by Jackie | 3:38 PM | 3-13-2008

In Los Angeles, there's a restaurant with "Costumer Parking Only". Hollywood's not far away, but I doubt they cater only to costumers. A quick search on flickr suggests this is not the only example.

Sent by essentialsaltes | 3:53 PM | 3-13-2008

The writer of this story spelled "typos" wrong twice, once in the headline and once in the story! Come on!

Sent by E | 4:55 PM | 3-13-2008

Here in lovely Livermore, California, stands a street sign: Paseo Laguna Seco.
Despite the proximity of a major raceway called Laguna Seca, the genius town fathers, in an effort to show off their multiculturalism, muffed it again because of a high school level Spanish grammar error! Here's to Paseo Laguna Seca. (It's the LagunA that's SecA (dry)--not the PaseO! If you're going to live in California, you need to speak the language!

Sent by Mike Brosius | 8:44 PM | 3-13-2008

In front of the quaint old City Hall building in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a cheerful little blue sign:
There are so, so many more.

Sent by mike Brosius | 8:55 PM | 3-13-2008

Several years ago, a new WalMart opened in Pleasanton, CA. In front of the store, a warning sign in 6-ft, white letters painted on the fresh black asphalt told motorists to "YEILD." A few months later, they tried to cover the misspelling with black paint, but you can still read the original.

Sent by Tim Peck | 11:42 AM | 3-14-2008

Working on my Master's thesis recently, I ran spellcheck. The things that it listed as errors were laughable. The real problem was going through all the so-called mistakes just to find the few that really were mistakes.The spellchecker mixed tenses, abbreviated things that should not have been, and added apostrophes all over the place! It turned out to be easier - and faster - to skip the spellcheck & risk missing a couple of extra letters.

Sent by M Jensen | 1:40 PM | 3-14-2008

AOL's heading for the article was "NPR: Seen Any Good Typo's Lately? I hope that was a joke.

Sent by Barry Nordin | 5:35 PM | 3-14-2008

A friend emailed me that someone was starting up an Ex-Patriot's Little League in London for the children of Americans stationed abroad...

Sent by Jo Manning | 9:45 PM | 3-16-2008

Our local Police Department had three hundred signs printed up to help decrease speeders - they had about forty installed before someone noticed that they all said "Slow Dowm" . . .

Sent by Mompy | 2:51 PM | 3-18-2008

Steve, "Typo" does not refer to "typological error" -- you mean "typographical error." Typology has to do with religious doctrines (Merriam-Webster dictionary). Also apostrophes doesn't need an apostrophe after the "e" and before the "s".

Sent by Proofreader | 10:11 PM | 3-22-2008

Go into any grocery store, and see vegetables sold for .79?? a pound.

When the clerk rings it up as 79?? a pound, I'm protesting it as false advertising, and telling her I want it for the posted price of 79 one-hundredths of a cent.

Sent by chris hemstead | 11:34 PM | 3-23-2008

A local coffee hut recently started advertising on their sandwich board that they are "now excepting visa"... I didn't have the heart to correct them, and just laughed each time I drove by until they changed the sign to something else.

Sent by Roberts In Redmond | 9:35 PM | 3-27-2008

A sign posted here and there in the busy little tourist town of Branson, Missouri reads: "No Busses." (I supposed that means hugs are off limits, too.)

Sent by Linda Meehan | 3:33 PM | 4-2-2008

As a professor of English composition, I see (and "correct") all sorts of typos, misspellings, and homophones (words that sound alike but are spelled differently). A fellow English composition professor told me of her "all time favorite" usage error. The student's essay she was grading was about the double-standard that is applied to young men and women who are dating. At one point in her essay, the student wrote, "If a girl meets a guy and does not sleep with him, she is a 'tease'; if a girl meets a guy and does sleep with him, she's a 'slut.' It's a loose, loose situation."

Sent by Brooke | 3:47 PM | 4-2-2008

My personal all-time favorite typo was a yellow diamond-shaped road sign to warn of a horse trail. The sign said "Bridal Path".

Sent by Phil in Chicago | 4:05 PM | 4-2-2008

On a software box aimed at helping high school students study and improve their grades, under the U.S. history section: "The principals of American Democracy."

Sent by Jennifer | 4:56 PM | 4-2-2008

"Seen any good typo's lately?"

Perhaps the person who wrote the story reporting this effort should have run it by the founder of TEAL?

Sent by Kathryn Bork | 6:05 PM | 4-2-2008


Wait-here for the misused hyphen

Sent by Karen in Portland | 2:31 AM | 4-3-2008

Unbelievable! I never paid any attention to such things. Maybe I took it for granted. But it's very easy to publish wordings right today. All you have to do is write it down on a word processor (such as Word Office) abd all youe spelling mistakes would be corrected. Then go out and copy those words to a public sign. This is the same process when we design a business card or a flyer in our on-line print shop

Sent by joe alon | 3:42 AM | 4-3-2008

On the walk-in door to the service department of a local car dealer: Enterance.

(That's what you do, isn't it? Enter?)

Sent by Dan Nelson | 9:20 AM | 4-3-2008

On the Chicago Cubs' opening day (4/1/08), they dedicated a new statue of/to Ernie Banks (a/k/a "Mr. Cub"). The statue was engraved with his famous saying "Let's Play Two." However, the actual envraving was "Lets Play Two." When asked about the missing apostrophe, the sculptor replied "I'm a sculptor, not a writer." Right. It was fixed 2 days later.

Sent by KJC | 4:19 PM | 4-3-2008

On the sign outside a local restaurant:

"Chinese and Thia cuisine"

I LOVE Asian food - is this a new variety for me to try?

Sent by Jackie | 9:30 PM | 4-3-2008

A (LARGE) banner hung in our hospital corridor for several weeks as a way to extol 8 key guidelines for paitient safety goals (here's the link)

The middle one on the bottom reads: "Vaccinate at all risk"

It SHOULD read: "Vaccinate all at risk"

I smiled every time I passed it in the hallway.

Sent by Hospital Employee | 10:21 PM | 4-3-2008

I saw a piece about this on TV, I was thrilled to see someone else had a passion for correct spelling and grammar!

Sent by kristie doyel | 5:12 PM | 4-5-2008

Finally! I wish I could go on tour with these guys. I'm always finding bad grammar and typos in public signs. There is a Walgreens in Ankeny, IA that has misspelled 'Stationery' on their signage above the aisle. Although they are technically correct - the aisle is

Sent by Jean Eichelberger | 1:03 AM | 4-7-2008

Finally, another spelling genius, like myself...I seem to have a natural talent for correctly spelling words AND signs, of course. Wherever I go, I usually just tell the proprietor of their mistakes - - often on menus.
But the best story is when I got married - in Vegas,
at the Special Memoris Wedding Chapel. There was a huge marquee, which said " CONGRTATULATIONS" to Suzie & Rudolf (us)...but I didn't notice it until I received the photos from the glorious day. Of all things to happen to all people, I had to laugh and still do when I think about it.

Keep up the Good work, Jeff, et al.

P.S. I'm always shocked to see 'professional' websites with typos's truly amazing to me that no one cares (except us).

Sent by Suzie | 1:15 AM | 4-7-2008

my last name is the biggest typo i have ever seen.

Sent by Erin | 9:02 AM | 4-7-2008

@Erin -- I'm curious about the typo in your last name.

Sent by Laura Conaway, NPR | 9:39 AM | 4-7-2008

Check your invitation, to wit: "Seen any typo's lately?"

'Apostrophe s' is not used correctly here, when I am sure that you mean plural 'typographical errors', not possessive case for 'typo'. When in doubt, spell it out!

Seen on a deli sign: SANDWICHES' here
On a hair salon window: WALK-IN's welcome
Huge banner: IPOD'S now

Sent by celia m. batan | 12:04 PM | 4-7-2008

Retail express cashier lines that read: "10 items or less".

Sent by Writer in Cub | 1:46 PM | 4-7-2008

What about spellcheck? It's not a reliable tool. A classic comes to mind.... pubic instead of public. Always proofread your print material.

Sent by Debbi | 7:12 PM | 4-7-2008

I may be wrong, but I think in one of Obama's current commercials about the oil industry it reads "invest in $150 million in research."

Sent by Roy Haskett | 5:26 AM | 4-8-2008

Jeff and his cohorts should come visit Taiwan!!

Sent by Rhett M. Straube | 5:30 AM | 4-8-2008

As Dennis said, Mr. Deck might be better off if he stayed in printed medium. In addition to his use of "you know", let's add "actually". The use of "actually" has reached epedimic tier.

Mr. Deck is far from the two "Actually" Kings, Bobby Flay and the all time winner, (has used "actually" three times in one sentence) Matt Lauer.

Sent by Guy | 5:31 AM | 4-8-2008

On a menu in a restaurant on Mallorca:
"Rabbi on red hot wood". The finally released the rabbi from his agony by adding the lette "t". The rabbit was grilled and served on a wooden platter.

Sent by Elena Davis | 6:07 AM | 4-8-2008

And then there is the situation of signs in close proximity, as my favorite in Texas years ago where 'Jesus Saves' was right above 'Green Stamps.' Priceless.

Sent by AylaGirl | 6:42 PM | 4-8-2008

To Steve, who wrote: "Typo" is short for "typological error," which is a mistake caused by inadvertent keystrokes while typing."
I am not certain about the punctuation with the "typographical error," portion of the sentence, but it just appears strange to have the comma inside the close quote. Me thinks it should be contained outside the close quote. I know, I know, I'm probably picking the white out of chicken crap......what's that you ask? What is the white in chicken crap?.....Why everyone knows that it's more chicken crap!

And to Marty in Sydney, the term most commonly used here in Amerika is "by crackie". If you want to gain membership to TEAL, you and Dundee must make an oath to never use the phrase "by crikie" ever again. Got it mate?

Sent by Jerry Ostrowsky | 12:48 PM | 4-10-2008

fyi, punctuation should always fall inside the quote - check out this reference from the Chicago Manual of Style guide:

Sent by sophie | 6:05 PM | 4-14-2008

Please come to the Belgrade, Montana post office and fix the sign that says "Open Satrudays", both on the door and on the wall behind the clerks.

Sent by Gina | 12:14 PM | 4-23-2008

Pity the public humiliation of broadcasting a typo thusly:
Flickr, you should never have to re-enter your password, but if for some reason you do, you will always to it via the Yahoo! login screen.
Flickr is very hard to use; shutterfly is reputed better. BTW, it should be ' always do it' with a d.

- d.
From here:

Sent by d | 8:43 AM | 5-5-2008

Does anyone have any info/anecdotes about such notable typos in and around Boston? I'd love to learn about anything current or previously existing!
Rachel A

Sent by Rachel A | 11:09 AM | 5-8-2008

I had finally had it. I have had to drive past Jeff Smid Auto's sign that says "My lifes a wreck" one too many times! I finally stopped and told the owner. It's been 2 years and he still has not fixed it. I am ready to take matters into my own hands. A piece of duct tape in the shape of an apostrophe ought to work!

Sent by Karen | 7:23 PM | 5-25-2008

Looks like the story died.
Anwho here's an odd online website typo:
its' 1999 annual report
Somehow I don't think it stands for Information Technologies' , either.

Sent by d | 11:29 PM | 6-25-2008