Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sylvan Learning Center Typo: Someone’s Head Is Going to Role

An Illinois-based friend of mine received this circular in the mail, touting tutoring services. As she remarked, “Sylvan Learning of Peoria wants you to get right in there and wallow in ‘your student's education.’ Apparently.” That’s right, according to the text, parents should take an active roll.

Sylvan wants parents to take "an active roll". Should that be yeast or Parkerhouse?

It bears pointing out that this isn’t a hastily-typed letter home  -- it’s a printed piece of promotional material. That means that a pretty large error was overlooked by the person who wrote the copy, the person who proofed it, and the person who did the graphic design. More eyes may have been involved, though printers are mostly immune from blame. (They’ll sometimes point out an error if they notice it, but the client usually has to sign off on the text they provided.)

Sylvan Learning Center, for those who don’t know, is a chain of franchised education centers. Their WIkipedia page (under scrutiny for being too advertisement-like) claims that Sylvan has served more than two million students, which sort of makes them like the McDonald’s hamburgers of tutoring.

I’m sure Sylvan of Peoria is telling itself (if they’ve even noticed the error) that everyone makes mistakes. In certain fields, though, isn’t there a higher obligation to make sure those mistakes are corrected before they brand your business in a bad way?

It reminds me of a headline typo I spotted on a web page for someone selling editing services for self-publishers. You won’t have to look very hard to see what went wrong:


Or you could wait and self publish next Septober.


It’s a simple enough typo, but it’s in huge letters and rather easy to spot. That means that the writer/editor neglected to view her work after hitting “publish.” I actually pointed out the error in the comment section, and it was weeks before it was corrected. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for your services or professionalism.

The bottom line: check your work. Especially if you work in the business of telling others to check their work. I’m nervous myself about falling victim to Muphry’s Law (not a typo -- check it out).

Bloggers, never fear. I’m not looking to nitpick your posts. If you do publish a book and spell the title wrong on the cover, though, I’ll be coming for you. And if you offer editing services -- edit.

Spotted any ridiculous publishing flubs? Send them my way!

9 comments:

  1. A nasty ha ha to Sylvan, since they also proctor tests so are a competitor of ours (I work at a testing center). I can't believe no one caught that misspelling at some point, though.

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    1. K.C. --I hope it's not these guys: http://www.g4tv.com/attackoftheshow/blog/post/728378/these-people-probably-cant-help/

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  2. Homonyms trip up plenty of writers and readers. And spell-checkers in wp software do not make distinctions. Students in my literature classes would make your hair turn gray (or is it grey?) :)

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    1. It's true, spell-check won't catch homophone errors, which is why you'd think a business related to tutoring and education services would hire people who don't rely on spellcheck. It's NEVER a failsafe. Grey vs. gray depends on which side of the pond you're on!

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  3. After reading the Wheat Belly book, I do hope they are not encouraging wheat roll consumption ;-)

    This kind of stuff drives me nuts too...

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  4. HA HA - just caught myself typing something to a friend on FB and accidentally typed "by" instead of "buy" and then "they" instead of "then" - I should not type this early in the morning!!! :D

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  5. Oh gawd! And that "5 Reasons" title is the kind that's meant to be Twittered. Spread the word--I'm an editor and an idiot.

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  6. I am finding myself typoing (is that a word?) more and more lately. The word buy when I mean by, stupid shit like that, when I *so* know better.

    BUT, I am not promoting myself as an editor. And a fun site to periodically visit is the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks http://www.unnecessaryquotes.com/ Kind of like Cakewrecks for punctuation - people seem to think, when in doubt, just throw 'em in there!

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    1. I subscribe to that blog. It's funny and sad at the same time.

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