3 Right Things that Look Wrong

book with writing over it

By Sara E. Hoffmann, School & Library Series Managing Editor

One thing about editing is that, no matter how many books you’ve edited, you still find yourself consulting the dictionary All. The. Time. throughout your workday to make sure that you’re spelling certain words correctly. See, there are a lot of of words that look like they are spelled correctly, but they actually aren’t. And vice versa: Lots of things look wrong but are actually right. A few cases in point:

  1. Did you know that when you want to say a person or animal is extremely intelligent, you’d say that he/she/it is supersmart (one word), as opposed to super smart? It’s true. Lots of other phrases that start with super are also supposed to be written as one word instead of two. If, like me, you are a word nerd and would like to see a complete list, please knock yourself out here.
  2. When referring to a former public officeholder—i.e., someone who was a senator or a president at the time that we are speaking of in one of our books but is now no longer in that office—I’d be inclined to refer to that person as then-senator Mark Dayton, or then-president Barack Obama. Notice the presence of the hyphen. But, lo and behold, when I sent a recent manuscript to our copy editor with said hyphen in place, she kindly deleted it for me and let me know that it should be then senator Mark Dayton and then president Barack Obama. Who knew? (Our copy editor did, apparently, but then again, she is a genius.)
  3.  Did you know that Jeep doesn’t always start with a capital J? Yes, Jeep is a proper name of a car, and as such, it should normally be capitalized. But the word jeep can also refer to generic military vehicles, and in that case, it shouldn’t be capitalized. (This was another area where our copy editor set me straight not long ago.  Seriously, what would we do without our copy editor?)

I’m a firm believer that every book benefits when we make thorough use of the dictionary as a resource to double-check ourselves, and that every book benefits from multiple pairs of eyes. Below are just a few books from our recent list that benefited greatly from both of these things.

What things have you noticed that look wrong but are actually right?

These Are Right!


The Supersmart Dolphin by Mari Schuh


John Lewis: Courage in Action by Matt Doeden


Cool Pickup Trucks by Jon M. Fishman

Read more from Sara Hoffmann!

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