Typo Hunt encourages good grammar

The Great Typo Hunt, a book by Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, is the strangest combination of Beatnik-influenced open road oddities and uptight, hair-in-a-bun grammarian observations ever seen on the same page.

Two friends travel the country, come across typos and correct them, having fun as much as they are learning. At least, that's how it's promoted. Yet how does that wild and free (and grammatically correct) adventure translate into a presentation at a college?

Author Jeff Deck answered that question on Tuesday Sept. 20 as he took to the Union Ballroom stage to give a PowerPoint presentation based on the book and his adventures with co-author Herson titled, "Stalking the Wild Typo: Strategies for Clearer, Cleaner, Communication." For a little over an hour, he guided the attendees through his slideshow. Instead of focusing on his proposed misadventures, the presentation used what he learned to give advice on good communication and its impact.

The importance of communication is something that few understand or care about. According to Deck, when presented with typos in their signs, many responded dismissively, saying, "No one's ever noticed it," or "It's too expensive to fix" or even, "Typos are no big deal!"

Misconceptions such as these pervade society and Deck's presentation sought to thoroughly refute them. To make a point about how problematic typos can be, Deck cited a survey in which 150 senior executives were asked how many typos it would take for them to stop considering a job candidate. The majority responded that only one typo in a résumé would automatically dismiss a potential candidate with the next largest group responding that only two typos would seal the deal.

Deck expertly used this to drive home the notion that, "We are our words. What we say and type speaks volumes about us." Typos aren't just minor, inconsequential mistakes. According to Deck, they can mean the difference between a job and unemployment.

Typos can also cost an insane amount of money. Deck showed a picture of a cookbook titled The Pasta Bible in which a recipe called for, "freshly ground black people." After waiting for the laughter to subside, Deck revealed that this typo cost the publishers $20,000 to correct. That silenced the room.

The PowerPoint presentation was not as engaging or interesting as Deck's adventures, but what it lacked in style and interest level it more than made up for in oddity and insight. Deck was funny in the strangest manner: a quiet and awkward presenter with a deadpan delivery that made the audience laugh at every joke. No one could tell when he was being serious or not.

In addition, the smart, relevant points that Deck made compensated for the disappointment that some may have felt due to the presentation's lack of zany stories about his life on the road.

Deck's talk used an infinitesimal thing, that elusive typo, as the framework for an entire commentary on communication, the impression we make through our words and actions and the way that even the smallest things can have world-sized consequences.

Yet it wasn't just the typo that Deck talked about. Communication in general, verbal and written, could mean the difference between getting a job and not getting it, between keeping a job and getting fired, and between impressing people and making a fool of oneself.

The Great Typo Hunt will be available in the College Bookstore for more grammatical tips and tricks.