The funniest typos of 2017 – Part 2

A few years back, I wrote an article for a project management website. In the final draft I submitted for publication, I left an error: Scum Master instead of Scrum Master. How could I have missed such an embarrassing typo? Now I know: When we read our own work, we don’t focus on the words themselves but on the message we’re trying to communicate, so our typos tend to survive till they meet an objective eye.

My job as a proofreader is to seek and destroy typos in other people’s work, but I have a nerdy hobby: I collect the funniest ones and then write blurbs inspired by them.

I presented the first half of the funniest typos of 2017 in my July blog post. Here’s the second half:

Arial [Aerial] photograph

Photo with word "Arial"

Aerial comes from Latin aerius, meaning “airy, aerial, lofty, high” or from Greek aerios, meaning “of the air, pertaining to air”. An aerial photo is taken from a plane, helicopter, satellite, or drone (National Geographic has some great drone photos). Arial is a font developed by Monotype, and professional designers wouldn’t have a photograph of Arial in their wallet. They actually frown upon Arial because it’s an imitation of Helvetica. Read more →

The mystery of the dangling modifier

Necklace with pendant and the words "Dangling Modifier, She Wrote"My favourite grammar whodunit is the case of the dangling modifier.

It all starts on a cold, dark night…You’re sitting on the sofa, wrapped up in a woollen blanket, holding a tablet in your hand. You read a sentence but feel something is wrong with it, so you read it again and notice the doer of the action has escaped and is nowhere to be found. You’re now in charge of gathering all the clues from the context to guess the suspect’s identity. Unravelling the intended meaning of a flawed sentence is hard detective work for you as a reader. Read more →

Why I worked as a freelance editor on Upwork and why I quit two years ago – Part 2

In the first part of this post, I described my experience working on Upwork. In this second part, I’ll tell you why I used Upwork for so long and why I decided to close my account.

Why I liked Upwork

For a long time I thought that if I cancelled my Upwork profile, new clients wouldn’t be able to find me, since my website is not SEO optimised and I’m not paying for Facebook ads or the like. But they did find me—it turns out word-of-mouth beats paid advertising. Read more →

Why I worked as a freelance editor on Upwork and why I quit two years ago – Part 1

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

When I decided to become an English editor and proofreader, I didn’t know where to start. I had no clue where to find projects, lacked professional editing experience, and had no confidence in my skills. So I did what many newbie freelancers did at the time: opened an oDesk (now Upwork) account. Read more →

A coffee costs €2

Drawing of the euro symbol

Let’s play a quick game: Read the title of this blog post aloud. How did you read it? “A coffee costs two euros” or “A coffee costs two euro”? Here’s my guess: If you’re American, British, or Portuguese, you probably said “two euros”. If you’re German or Italian, you probably said “two euro”. The nice thing about this game is that everyone wins. The correct plural of euro is euro or euros, depending on whom you ask or what dictionary you consult. Read more →

The funniest typos of 2017 – Part 1

My job gives me the chance to see all kinds of typos—many dull, a few irreverent, and some hilarious—before they reach the reader. Although it’s fun to correct misspellings, some are too creative to be buried under red markups forever. That’s why last year I decided to start this series of blog posts.

Here is the first half of the lineup of the most creative typos I came across in 2017:

Customers prefer leaning [learning] about a brand

Person leaning against a logo

Who knows what customers prefer these days? Leaning against a brand or learning about a brand? I lean towards the second option. You can lean against a wall when you’re tired of waiting in queue. You lean towards an idea when you have a preference towards it. Read more →

The generic man and LinkedIn gaffes

Sticky note saying "Human"

A couple of days ago a manager shared on LinkedIn a photo of a team of smiling men and women celebrating some achievement. Nice. But her message read, “thanks to my 15-man team” (I’m paraphrasing).


It’s true that in Old English man meant “person”. But by the Industrial Revolution, the generic man was gone and the modern meaning of the word (“adult male human”) was firmly established. So, “15-man team” is not the same as “15-person team”.

Not convinced? Would you say “Marie Curie was the first man to win a Nobel Prize twice”?

Read more →

What I wish I knew when I was a research scientist – Part 2 (More tips)

Book with halo

In the first part of this blog post, I listed five language editing tips for academic writers:

  1. Write we did instead of this paper did.
  2. Avoid long paragraphs.
  3. Use because.
  4. Reference figures in parentheses.
  5. Be assertive.

Language editing tips

In this second part, I’m discussing five more tips, which I hope you’ll find useful when revising your own papers. Read more →

What I wish I knew when I was a research scientist – Part 1

Book with a halo

Once upon a time, I earned my living as a research fellow. Like many scientists, when I submitted a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal, I wanted my paper to be error-free, but I didn’t spend much time on polishing my writing style. I wasn’t a writer, and scholarly writing wasn’t prose—so I thought. Read more →

Brioche and 7 other English words with surprising meanings in Italy

Loaf cake and slices with price tag and red pencil“Ecco le sue brioche” (“here are your brioches”), the baker said, handing me a paper bag with my order.

“No, croissants”, I said.

“Si, brioche”, he said, nodding.

Frustrated because I couldn’t remember how to say “I ordered croissants, not brioches” in Italian, I opened the bag to reveal two fresh and crispy croissants. The baker didn’t get my order wrong: brioche means “croissant” in northern Italy.

More than 10 years down the road, I still love croissants and I still tend to be quizzical when I hear an English word with a different meaning in spoken Italian.

Here are a few common English words you will hear often if you move to Italy. You might think you know what these words mean in your home country, but when you’re in Italy, you’ll be expected to use them in an exotic way, as the Italians do. Read more →