The Best (Worst?) Typos, Mistakes, and Correrctions of 2012

Which were the best—most amusing, most mortifying, funniest, most cringeworthy, and most interesting—mistakes of the year? Herewith, our favorites.

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Typos! We love them, we love to hate them. They make us laugh, they make us cry. They come in many shapes and sizes. And so do those corrections—not always typo-related—added to many a newspaper article when it turns out things weren't written exactly as they should be. It happens to the best of us (fortunately we have the Twitter typo police hanging around to alert us to our embarrassing mistakes). But without those mistakes, wouldn't online (and especially print) life be just a wee bit more boring? So, which were the best—most amusing, most mortifying, funniest, most cringeworthy, and most interesting—mistakes of the year? Herewith, our favorites.

1. This is the most meta and the most recent typo to have caught our attention. The Toronto Sun issued a correction, as tweeted by Globe and Mail media reporter Steve Ladurantaye (@sladurantaye). All very responsible and good, until they SPELLED CORRECTION WRONG.

2. A couple of corrections from the New York Times this year were particularly special, not due to typos but for the unique and beautiful quality of the corrections themselves. Take this one from back in January of 2012:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described imagery from The Shining. The gentleman seen with the weird guy in the bear suit is wearing a tuxedo, but not a top hat.

3. Or consider this one, published upon the death of Gore Vidal this summer, which is just quite a lot of correction:

An obituary on Gore Vidal on Wednesday included several errors. Mr. Vidal called William F. Buckley Jr. a crypto-Nazi, not a crypto-fascist, in a television appearance during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. While Mr. Vidal frequently joked that Vice President Al Gore was his cousin, genealogists have been unable to confirm that they were related. And according to Mr. Vidal’s memoir Palimpsest, he and his longtime live-in companion, Howard Austen, had sex the night they met, but did not sleep together after they began living together. It is not the case that they never had sex.

4. Remember when the Romney campaign spelled America "Amercia" and reminded the world how much we need copy eidtors*? The mocking went viral. But there were many political typos this year, including Obama spelling Ohio wrong, Cory Booker spelling Barack wrong, Todd Akin having lots of trouble with the word you're, and Romney's Regan mishap, to name a few. Then there were those intense discussions about Barack Obama's campaign punctuation. And still, our children have not learned. Who wants to vote for the president of the Untied States?

5. It is terribly easy to transpose a couple of letters when typing quickly, and to fail to notice one's mistake. Who hasn'd tone that? Such is the case for the transposition of Bloomberg and Bloobmerg, which appeared throughout the year in various places to my great pleasure, largely because this Mr. Bloobmerg is a person who is fun to imagine. He would like large sugary sodas, one would think. At right, an example from CBS New York.

6. One great (or horrifying, depending on whether you're reading it or you created it) typo that occurs regularly is that awkward instance in which public is instead spelled without the l. It's an oldie but a goodie (again depending on one's perspective) that occurs again and again over the years. And here it is in 2012, "A Most Unfortunate Commencement Typo" from the University of Texas, Austin (at right). The commencement brochures were reprinted and the school issued an apology, tweeting, "Our deepest apologies to our 2012 graduates for the eggregious typo in our program. We are working to distribute corrected programs." (Unfortunately, they spelled egregious wrong, too.) But with pubic, they're in relatively solid company. This happens frequently, and it's always amusing. (Santorum's pubic schedule, for instance?) Dirty joke typos, after all, are some of the best. Remember that "herniated dick"? What about "sex-year"? Or this one.

7. As depicted in the Guardian, Just My Typo, a British book released this year, has compiled numerous typos from times past, including that incident in which School was painted wrong on a street (Shcool) and, er, this lovely mistake:

8. Speaking of the former—ah, the scatological typo!—reports that someone has "shot himself" should always, always, always be proofread twice, given that the i and the o are right next door to each other. Oh dear, from March 15. (As with this similar typo in 2011, when guns are not involved in this mistake, it's much funnier: "He SHIFTED!") See also, "Series Shits to Boston."

9. From Poynter, a "Florida socialite" is not the same thing as a "Florida socialist." But with the General Petraeus scandal we got the latter description of Jill Kelley, and because this was an AP story, it was spread around the Internet rather thoroughly.

10. Spider-Man takes a hyphen! One person on Twitter, @Respectthehyphen, has made correcting this error his unpaid internship, so to speak.

11. Were you one of those sharp-eyed, copy-minded folks who caught the typo in the Magic Mike trailer? Hint: If he can't spell it, you might not want him to be your boyFriend.

12. If this had been an actual mistake it would have been my favorite of the year. As Poynter's  wrote in May, "At first I guessed it was a spell-check error that transformed fantastically-named 'Sherlock' actor Benedict Cumberbatch into “Bandersnatch Cummerbund” in a Washington Post story, but I was wrong." It was a joke, inserted in purpose. Too good to be true, I suppose. But on the plus side, we get this additional correction from Silverman: "Note: The original headline on this post stated that Bandersnatch Cummerbund was a typo; the headline has since been updated to reflect that it wasn’t a typo."

13. And then there was the time that Fox Nation spelled illiterate wrong.

14. And speaking of Fox, yesterday Rob Lowe corrected the grammar of a Fox sports announcer. Unfortunately, he also spelled grammar wrong in his hashtag. Nothing erases the shame of a copy correction like a copy mistake inside of it. It's grammer, wrapped in a mystery, inside a enigma.

15. But this one, from the Los Angeles Times, really is my favorite of the year, I think. It's so ... metaphorical. This error occurred at the final stage of production, following copy editing, when a drop cap was removed. "In changing the computer coding involved, he also inadvertently changed the spelling," explained Assistant Managing Editor for Copy Desks, Library and Standards Henry Fuhrmann to L.A. Weekly.


16. Let's close with these double New York Times corrections, from an article about how stars are born, because I find them the most enlightening of the year.

Correction: November 21, 2012:

An article on Tuesday about the birthrate of stars in the universe misstated the sound made by pressure waves coming out of a black hole in the galaxy NGC 1275. The sound is that of a B flat 57 octaves below middle C, not 27 octaves.

Correction: November 22, 2012

An article on Tuesday about the birthrate of stars in the universe misstated the rate of star production today. The current consolidation rate of “starstuff” into stars is about a million tons per minute per cubic light-year, or half a trillion tons per year per cubic light-year. It is not a million tons per year per cubic light-year.

Did we miss any of your favoriets? Of course we did! Hypervocal's Slade Sohmer, for instance, reminds us of the New York Times' wonderful bronies correction, from an article published in late 2011 that was discussed into 2012. It is Twilight Sparkle, not Fluttershy. Yes, yes it is.

*All mistakes in this post are on purpose, for solidarity.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.