May Cash Contest: How many Spell-check errors can you spot?

Feeling Frustrated

Feeling frustrated by spell-checker’s missed errors

Not one word on this page is misspelled, but…

Dozens of words on this page are still wrong. Your Spell-Checker hasn’t a clue about any of these.

Now it’s time to rely on your eye.

How sharp are you? Are you a kick-butt Editor? Maybe you figure you are good enough at this to edit your own book. Well, are you? Let’s find out!

I have two cash prizes for this month–
  •  First Prize, closest error-count — $20
  •  Entry Prize, chosen at random among ALL entries — $10

Enter (free) by leaving your best count of missed by spell-check errors in Comments, below. (If we get duplicate correct counts, I’ll use a random drawing among those contestants to choose our winner.)

Entry deadline is May 31st by midnight, EDT.

Ready to play?

The May Spell-Checker Error Contest begins…


Post:  Should You Relay on Spell-Checker to Edit Your Book?

by Jim Bessey

If your like me, you depend upon your word-processing software’s spell-checker to pinpoint errors when your composing.

Let’s be honest hear: even if you did once know how too spell thousands of words, your digital editing buddy has taken over the heavy lifting. Unless you’ve turned yours off (and why wood you??).

When you’re racing your fingers across the keyboard, ideas spouting fourth like lava, Spell-check is an amazing time-savor and a God-send.

So, why do so mane experts like Guy Kawasaki insist that you must pay a competent editor to go though your manuscript before you publish it?

Good question!

Doesn’t good software make expensive editors obsolete? You mite think sow.

However, judging by the shear number of errors I’m seeing in ebooks I’ve bought from Amazon, we’d all be better of to air on the side of caution and pay-up!

On of the funniest mistakes I’ve seen this past ear was from an Author who described the device that’s glued to the inside of you’re windshield as a “review mirror.” Seriously?

“But I can’t afford it!” you scream.

But can you afford knot to hire an editor?

Think about this for a minute. In are cent post, author Peg Brantley (Red Tide, The Missings) quoted sum stunning statistics:

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 books are published each year in the U.S. alone. That’s more than 83,000 a month. 2,700 a day. 114 books a minute. Every minute.

Now, were would you rather be among those million new books this year? Top 10% or bottom 10%? Here’s how two guarantee the ladder: publish a book filled with mistakes like the ones in this post.

If you want to cell books, lost of them, yours will need to bee nearly error-free.

“I can due it myself,” you insist.

Can you really? Can you, your husband, ore your best righting buddy catch at least 99% of the mistakes in your manuscript?

History and personal experience says, “not likely.”

The trouble centers around an lack of objectivity. You now what you rote. Your spouse loves you, and your friend doesn’t want to hurt you feelings. Their not editors, so you can’t deepened on then to be through and professional.

Sew what’s a writer to do?

You could settle four less. I’m not trying to rein on your parade here. I’m trying to be honest, the weigh a paid editor would level with you.

Event if your story is fantastic, but its filled with mistakes — only your friends will bye it.

If you have optimistic goals about sails of your book and want to keep those objectives in site, you well have to publish the beast possible product that you can produce. Don’t district readers with errors. They’ll never comeback.

And they won’t even bother to leaf you reviews. Or even review mirrors. (Don’t count that!)

Trust me, the future success off your book depends on word of month and grate reviews.

Otherwise, you simply don’t half enough friends.

Wear do you want your book to be in they ear 2014? If you’d like to sea it hit one of Amazon’s best-seller lists, then byte the bullet and heir a professional editor.

Please don’t weight for pour reviews and dismal sales figures to proof my point for you.

Invest in yore future and inspect success fore your book. And stop looking for any more errors now!

»Photo credit:  Zach Klein

questionHow many “spell-checker” errors did you find? Leave your answer in Comments, just below. One entry per player, please.

Note: Please do not include any inadvertent punctuation or grammatical errors unrelated to the whole spell-checker issue here. Thanks!


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  1. Going through and counting on my hands which was not professional I found 60 errors on a single one time read. It was just too painful to pull out pen and paper to read a second time to recount. Get an editor for everyone’s sake. The sad thing is I’ve slogged my way partly through a few books that were pretty close to this and more blogs and comments than I want to think about.

    • Kudos for daring to be first, Tasha!

      I’ll note your entry as “60” errors, unless you’d like to return before the deadline and change your estimate.

      Have to agree with your last statement, too. I’m becoming more and more wary of free ebooks, unless they are referred to me by someone I trust. And in this case, referrals from professional editors are the best!

      Thanks for being the first to comment, Tasha!

  2. Mine is 62. (We’re allowed to edit later, right?)

    • If you want to change your entry to a different number, Mandy, then be sure to reply to your own comment so it all ties together, ok?

      Same deadline, tho. 🙂

  3. I lost track the first time, lol. (My teeth were grating and I ran out of fingers?) On the second read I came up with 72 errors! I shudder to have to go through it again more closely, so I’ll let that number be my guess. I’ve also run across a few books that were this bad; and it’s unfortunate, because there are a lot of new authors out there who write beautifully. Writers who think publishing without having their work edited is okay aren’t doing themselves – or the industry – any favors.

    • exactly, Julie!

      I feel so bad for them all; want to send them email messages offering to help. But it’s a big mountain, and I”m only one reader…

  4. I say 70 errors. One error I counted may depend on whether a dash has been dropped in common editing.

  5. One last post – really!

    A quote by Brendan Hills: “Dew knot trussed yore spell chequer two fined awl yore mistakes.”

  6. I am non English speaker and found 50 errors… maybe there were more 🙂

  7. Hey Jim — great idea! I love to proofread and edit. 🙂
    I’m entering a count of “67” errors.

  8. I found 68 errors. Proofreading is not easy, so definitely hire a professional.

  9. So much for says

    So . . . either I can’t count or I was hallucinating. Or both. I am sayin’ 90ish. Yup 90.

  10. PJ Yusten says

    So . . . either I can’t count or I was hallucinating. Or both. I am sayin’ 90ish. Yup 90.
    Even after I added my name. It’s still my answer.

    • PJ Yusten says

      Hmmph. If youre not counting punctuation errors then Ill change my answer but I counted all errors because an error by any other name would still be an error right or am I paranoid
      77 errors gotta still be errors so my new answer is 77 and I think there are only SEVEN complete sentences.

  11. Leila Wilson says

    I found 62 errors.

  12. I found 64 errors.

  13. If you ignore the punctuation (and formatting) errors and focus primarily on the spelling errors (which is hard!), when your eyes stop bleeding you’ll find 64 spelling errors.

    • Sorry, Doreen: your comment was hiding in my Spam folder. Good thing I checked.

      Odd, too, because there isn’t anything ‘spammy’ about your comment. Maybe the two links? Not sure, but you’re entered now!

  14. Humaira Khan says

    I found 65 errors!

  15. Rebekah Jones says

    Hey Jim – I counted 69.

  16. Ludmillia Jones says

    I counted 69.

  17. I say 70. haha

  18. Nancy Newhoff says

    I counted 62 errors.

  19. The fun part for me is, I haven’t counted yet!

    I didn’t want to risk any “slipping” on my part, if I needed to reply to anyone’s entry.

    In fact, when the time comes I’m going to have a professional book editor go over the post, just to make sure that we both agree on the error count.

    So I can offer this note completely without prejudice: Please don’t be put off if we begin to accumulate duplicate answers — they might not be the right count! 🙂


    … for everyone who subscribed to “follow-up comments” —

    Reading between the words NOW: and …now! (in the Contest “post”), how many complete sentences have NO ERRORS? (Ignore any possible punctuation mistakes.)

    Among those who answer this question correctly, I’ll add a $5 Bonus Prize after the contest deadline, using a random drawing if we have more than one correct entry.

    • PJ Yusten says

      Um, why ignore punctuation mistakes? Tis VERY important. Look at the following example.
      Woman without her man is nothing. (Archie Bunker punctuation)
      Woman! Without her, man is nothing. (my version of correct punctuation)

      • Love that example, PJ!

        This contest ignores punctuation because spell-checkers aren’t designed to check that for you. As a writer, you really have to learn to punctuate properly without help from software.

        And that’s a subject for a whole bunch of other posts, written by authors more qualified than I am! 🙂

  21. 79

  22. I will have to go back and recheck because I counted grammatical errors as well. You only want spell check errors, right?

  23. Be sure to include any “grammatical” errors that the result of “spelled right but used incorrectly”, JoAnn.

    For instance, how often have you seen authors accidentally drop an “ing” ending or forget to add the plural “s” on a word? Spell-checker misses these errors because the remaining words are still SPELLED correctly, even if they are USED incorrectly.

    This is also true when authors omit a word. Since it doesn’t exist, there’s nothing to spell correctly. Note that I did not address this error in the post — too tricky to count missing words, too! 🙂

    I hope that helps.

    PS: I’m driving myself crazy proofreading my own comment replies here!

  24. Okay, I’m not sure that I haven’t lost count somewhere, but I counted 64 mistakes in one read-through.

  25. Hi Jim,
    I counted 67. There are a couple of instances where two words have been separated incorrectly (e.g. ‘are cent’) which I’m counting as a single error instead of 2.
    This was fun and appeals to my sense of pedantry. 😉
    You didn’t include the use of ‘loose’ for ‘lose’. I can’t decide whether to be sad or relieved about that!

  26. Angela young says


  27. John Austin says

    88 … for sure!

  28. Kim Davis says

    I counted 70. I think the best way to proof read is to do it once reading it left to right going down, then start at the bottom and go up reading right to left, if you want, but definitely 2nd time should be starting at bottom.

  29. 69.

  30. Here’s my ruling on the question Tracey G posed:

    When a writer splits two words into two other words, and both are still spelled correctly — then you end up with TWO ERRORS, two incorrect words.

    In the case noted above, the words “are” and “cent” are both incorrect. Two errors.

    Anyone who wants to change their count based on this decision, please do so by replying to your original entry. Thanks!

  31. In one quick read, I found 73 errors. This was painful!

  32. That was so much fun! LOL I got 67.

  33. Mac Pike says


    • Welcome back, Mac — one of our famous prior winners.

      Great to see you here again. And, please, don’t ever let me post a direct quote from you here for analysis. 🙂

  34. Sigi Kattan says

    I love proof reading! and it drives me crazy when i see printed material with errors! and i surprisingly find many in all areas: magazines, books, newspapers….what is going on?!
    So, thanks for the brain teaser: i count on first read 66.

    And for the bonus question: 10 correct sentences (not including the box, which is another 5 correctly spelled sentences).

    By the way, hats off to your great idea! It obviously gets people involved and talking.

  35. I make it 65 errors, not counting American spellings that would be errors here in Britain. Good post, by the way, despite the errors!

    • Based on your ruling about incorrect spacing in words, my count is 67.

      • 67 it is, then, Ann Marie.

        And folks, the deadline to revise your contest entries is the same as the contest’s deadline — Fri May 31 by midnight. Be sure to Reply to your original entry so it’s easy to keep track.

    • LOL, fair enough, Ann Marie!

      Were there any British spellings that would be errors in America? I hadn’t given that a thought, whilst composing this beastie.

      And, thank you!

      • The only American spelling I spotted is ‘centers’ which would be ‘centres’ in Britain.

        The extra question about complete sentences is tricky, because there are a lot of fragments which are not complete sentences. If you define a sentence as one full stop to the next, I counted 11 with no errors. If you don’t count fragments, I make it 7.

        I do hope you will publish a notated version, so we can see where the errors really were!

        • I agree with you about “fragments,” Ann Marie.

          Looks like others may be counting the fragments, though I haven’t counted for myself yet. I’ll accept either of your answers if they turn out to be correct.

          After the deadline, I’ll republish the error-filled post, with every appropriate error highlighted.

  36. I have a count of 69 errors. I had a count of 14 error free sentences.

  37. Gabrielle says

    My count was 73. Great exercise Jim, after doing this I am convinced that every writer needs an editor.

  38. Nicky Homer says

    Phew…who’d be an editor?! I counted 69 errors (counting “are cent” as two which appears to be the general consensus). Looking forward to seeing the answer.

  39. This was fun. I count 71 individual errors (not including some questionable hyphenation), and 15 correct sentences.
    I look forward to seeing the corrected version:)

    • Thanks, Rhonda.

      You and I will have to meet over coffee to discuss that “questionable hyphenation.” I can always use advice from a professional editor about that!

  40. 68 if you count adding an unnecessary capital letter, 67 if you don’t. (I saw a couple of questionable hyphernations too, but didn’t count them.)



    • Just ask yourself, Charlotte: “Is that the sort of error a hurried writer might make, which spell-checker would not catch?”

      And, yes, ignore any hyphenation concerns.

  41. Jewel Kennington says

    I found 72 errors, all misused or misspelled words.

  42. Ojo Oluwakemi says

    Hi Jim, my first visit on *winks. I got the link from Mandy Pages, thanks to Mandy. It’s a pity that the contest is over. Its kinda fun and I will like to participate in the next one. I will visit again 🙂

    • I’m thrilled to meet you, Ojo!

      Mandy is a treasure, and the first to offer sponsorship here. Her current contest is ROCKIN’ right now, so I kept mine low-profile and non-writing. June’s go-round will be different, and I’d love to see you join us when it appears.

      Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself, and welcome!

  43. I should have left a mention here, for everyone’s benefit, that the red-lettered version of this post has been published. (You can see the same link in Trackbacks, above.)

    I’ll have all final decisions for May’s contest by this evening. Thanks for your patience, and a very Happy Father’s Day to all our Dads!

  44. Please see my initial judging announcement in Comments to the “Errors Revealed” post.

    Winners to be listed, next.

  45. Okay, here we go, friends.

    1. Our contest Winner is Jewel Kennington ($20)

    2. Our runner-up prize goes to Rhonda Kronyk ($10)

    3. The Thank You prize is randomly awarded to Leila Wilson ($10)

    4. The Sentence Bonus, won by a coin toss, goes to Ann Marie Thomas ($5)

    Congratulations to all of our winners. Thank you to everyone who entered, a record crowd by the way!

    I’ll contact each winner to confirm your PayPal email choice.

  46. Maria Dewaik says

    On a quick read, I’ve found 65 errors. Those are mostly spelling. I’m not that good with the punctuation, so I will hire an editor when I’m ready.

    • Hi Maria,

      You’re very close to the correct count, though I can’t recall exactly what the final decision was. We had at least two disputed errors during the final phase of this contest. I have to agree — it’s much easier to locate spelling errors than to be certain of punctuation rules. Hiring an editor is a smart move for all of us who hope to be paid for our words. Best of luck with your journey.


  1. […] chequer two fined awl yore mistakes.”  –Brendan Hills  (with thanks to alert reader Eva P Scott for supplying this perfect […]

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