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I have a quote that has a misplaced "to":

... they will put you to back to sleep ...

It seems like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I can either:

  • Just delete the mistaken "to" (then I would be deliberately misquoting them)
  • Put [sic] next to it (which looks unbelievably pedantic, especially since they write better than I do)

Is there a way around this?

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maybe it was : they will put you two back to sleep –  wim Feb 13 '12 at 23:48
1  
In this universe, I see only 3 things you could possibly do regarding the mistake - (1) Leave it there (2) Correct it with [sic] (3) Correct it without sic .. I don't see how any other 'ways around this' exist. –  ZafarS Jan 8 '13 at 22:46
    
@ZafarS footnote? –  Lucas Jan 9 '13 at 0:25
    
@Lucas That would garner more attention. I don't see why you can't just correct it, it is a trivial mistake anyway. –  ZafarS Jan 9 '13 at 6:38
    
@ZafarS that is what I did (I think, it was almost a year ago now). –  Lucas Jan 9 '13 at 15:42

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

In its section on Quotations and Dialogue: Permissible changes to punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, the Chicago Manual of Style recommends:

Obvious typographic errors may be corrected silently (without comment or sic; see 13.59), unless the passage quoted is from an older work or a manuscript source where idiosyncrasies of spelling are generally preserved. If spelling and punctuation are modernized or altered for clarity, readers must be so informed in a note, in a preface, or elsewhere.

The choice is yours: make the correction and move on, or correct the text and flag it with a footnote[1].

However, the example you cite apparently isn't from an ancient manuscript, and your correction isn't modernizing it or altering it for clarity, so I would simply make the correction without comment.

[1] Like this one.

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I saw "Chicago Manual of Style" mentioned on Wikipedia. Do you know what kind of publication it is aimed at? –  Lucas Feb 13 '12 at 19:46
1  
Its subtitle is "The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers." It's intended to be a general reference for standard writing. –  Gnawme Feb 13 '12 at 19:53

Depending on the context, you could also:

  • paraphrase the quote (still source it, but don't put quotes) (e.g. The author contends they will put you back to sleep)

  • make your own edits inside the quote (e.g. "they will put you ... back to sleep")

  • just ignore it (e.g. "they will put you back to sleep[1]") and make the clarification in the footnote

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I can't really do the first, the second is doable but looks like I've skipped a whole chunk of text. –  Lucas Feb 13 '12 at 19:26
    
The last one looks like the one - I love footnotes –  Lucas Feb 13 '12 at 19:27

If the error isn't relevant to the topic at hand, I don't think there's any harm in silently correcting it. Footnoting it just to say "there was a typo in the original" seems twice as intrusive as "[sic]".

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