I recently read a book in which a male character felt dizzy and swayed. A female character grabbed him by his anus. What’s that you say? She grabbed his anus? That’s right; the text said she grabbed his anus. After I stopped laughing, I realized that the correct word was likely to be arms; she grabbed his arms to hold him upright. A normal reaction to seeing someone sway is to grab the person’s arms, although grabbing his anus would probably cause him to straighten up too and likely with some kind of sound emission from the swaying person. I don’t know if the character’s dizziness would pass, something along the lines of slapping a hysterical person, but somehow, I doubt that was the author’s originally intended image. Grabbing someone’s anus wouldn’t be my choice to keep a swaying the person from falling over, or my word choice when writing about keeping a swaying person from falling over. There would be a lot ways that could go wrong, but I digress. The fact is that a typo occurred there because no one read the work, which is why proofreading by a human is necessary. It’s a typo that jerked me out of the story and that’s why it is bad. A reader should remain immersed in the story and authors should work hard to avoid popping their readers out of the story, at least until the story ends. Typos are avoidable for the most part.
Now that book I was reading a book that had been through OCR (optical character recognition) to make it an eBook and I think that is where the error came through. It’s still a glaring error and a good proofreader should have caught it. Computers can do a number of things extremely fast and extremely accurately. However, a computer should not be the only proofreader, unless it is artificially intelligent. A computer simply can’t do some things. Proofreading is one of them. That’s because a machine doesn’t go by content. It can’t. The human brain can go by content and does it quite well. OCR is a great tool, but it is not perfect. It doesn’t actually read the work, it only checks that it has the letters write. It doesn’t even spell check, unless it is a high-end OCR. Remember, just because a word’s spelling is correct, doesn’t make it the right word for the job.
I don’t want to sound as though I expect perfection in the text that I read. I know how hard it is to spot typos in my own work. You have to work to produce a quality piece of writing. You have to strive to be typo-free. No one is perfect, so typos occasionally creep into text. It’s a fact of writing. While it’s tempting to let the computer do the work, you should take the time to read what you have written. Read your work aloud. That’s how you find the typos. With a little vigilance, you can keep the numbers down.