The OpenStreetMap Sign Up page advises new users on its password policy:

With OpenID a password is not required, but some extra tools or server [sic] may still need one.

I've added [sic] immediately after the error in the middle of the sentence.

When I read the sentence, I immediately thought "Which extra tools or servers need a password?"

How do I express this while quoting the original text, so that I may bring attention to the error?

Do I put [sic] inside the quote like this:

Which "extra tools or server [sic]" need a password?

Or put it outside the quote like this:

Which "extra tools or server" [sic] need a password?

Or do something else? (Would it be petty to call out a small error in this way?)


sic should be inside brackets and italicised. The brackets are conventionally square within the quote:

"There is an eror[sic] in the spelling"

or round if it outside the quote

"There is an eror in the spelling" (sic)

It is italicised because it is a foreign word, and is a contraction of 'sic erat scriptum', which is worth knowing as it means 'thus it was written'. That is the only purpose of sic - to highlight that any non-standard features in a quote are original and not a error in transcription.

Since non-standard features are not necessarily mistakes (they could be archaic spelling or word-play for instance) sic is not a way to highlight errors in grammar or logic. To do that could be seen as ridicule, and it could be argued that such errors should just be quietly corrected rather than highlighted.

  • Thanks. I knew [sic] was a Latin thing but I didn't know what it actually meant. Ridicule is not my intention. I make some arguments for quiet correction in my own answer. – Iain Samuel McLean Elder Oct 14 '13 at 2:26
  • You're welcome, and I wasn't intending to suggest that you use it to ridicule. In my world of academia, unfortunately, it too frequently is used in that way. – Roaring Fish Oct 14 '13 at 2:53

Use [sic] just after the word you want to point out.

This thread maybe of help to you as well: How do I properly use [sic] for a phrase? Or do I use it at all?

Again, sic should never be used except when a reader might really suppose that there was a misprint or garbling; to insert it simply by way of drawing attention and conveying a sneer is a very heavy assumption of superiority.


For a small error like this, it's simpler to correct the error inline using brackets:

Which "extra tools or server[s]" need a password?

It's shorter, less stuffy ([sic] looks very formal), and more constructive (it calls out the problem by fixing it).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.