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?

  • maybe it was : they will put you two back to sleep
    – wim
    Feb 13, 2012 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. Jan 8, 2013 at 22:46
  • @ZafarS footnote?
    – Lucas
    Jan 9, 2013 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. Jan 9, 2013 at 6:38
  • @ZafarS that is what I did (I think, it was almost a year ago now).
    – Lucas
    Jan 9, 2013 at 15:42

3 Answers 3


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.

  • I saw "Chicago Manual of Style" mentioned on Wikipedia. Do you know what kind of publication it is aimed at?
    – Lucas
    Feb 13, 2012 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, 2012 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

  • 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, 2012 at 19:26
  • The last one looks like the one - I love footnotes
    – Lucas
    Feb 13, 2012 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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