IF U CN RD THS
We've done it again. We misspelled Annapolis — as Annpolis — in a headline. In the BIG TYPE.
That headline, written by a copy editor, was checked by a slot editor (the editor who oversees the work of a particular gaggle of copy editors), was overlooked by another copy editor who read the page proof, and was set in type by a page designer. Four people saw the error in front of their noses, and no one caught it.
You may wonder how this could happen. The managing editor wondered, too.
The problem is not that those four editors were ignorant. Quite the contrary: All four are experienced readers, and that is the problem. Unless you are a beginning reader sounding out words letter by letter, or someone afflicted with a cognitive disorder, you do not read letter by letter, word by word. Your eyes scan clusters of letters and even phrases at a time, which your brain sorts into patterns and interprets as intelligible meanings. Annapolis is a familiar pattern of letters.
The reader's eye can register that particular cluster with one letter missing, and the brain, recognizing the pattern, supplies the missing letter and moves on.
That the mind operates this way, by the recognition of patterns of letters and phrases, can be illustrated by a text widely circulated on the Internet. (Look up typoglycemia on a search engine.) The faster you move your eyes over this passage without pausing, the more meaning you are likely to take in.
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt.
Still and all, however, we make an effort to spell all the words correctly.