'Sneak Peak' Strikes Again

I bet that, from time to time, everyone indulges in this thought: The people at the top should listen to me. The president, Congress, the Fed, whoever -- if only they'd do as I think they should, everything would be fine.

I, for one, could probably save the world and wow the Pulitzer committee with my groundbreaking economic theory (our concept of inflation is obsolete due to our highly responsive luxury goods market) -- if only I had a clue what to do with that dazzling insight.

It takes a few days to realize how silly I'm being in thinking that bigwigs should listen to me.

But this month, something amazing happened: actual confirmation that, yes, world leaders should listen to me. That realization came in the form of a Facebook posting by the Mitt Romney campaign that made it all too clear someone there could have benefited from my recent podcast on the common typo "sneak peak."

In a flub-filled couple of weeks that also served as a national advertisement for quality copyediting, the Romney campaign posted an offer of a "sneak-peak" of a campaign video. That "peak," of course, should have been "peek" -- meaning a glimpse or a look. The embarrassing mistake made headlines, along with two other Romney team typos. A week before, a campaign app misspelled America as Amercia. Not long after, the Romney camp took a bold stance against spell-checker by offering Web surfers a chance to get "official gar."

As I've said, most of the people who make the "sneak peak" typo probably know the difference between "peak" and "peek." But as this astoundingly common typo proves, knowing the difference isn't enough. This is a typo looking for a place to happen. If your mind hears an "eek" sound in "sneak" and as you type it with an "eak," it's only natural that that you'd be tempted to give "peek" the same treatment.

The only way to avoid the "sneak peak" error is to make it a point to pay attention every time you use this term. And, I would add, the only way to run a media campaign for national office is under the watchful eye of a skilled proofreader or copy editor.

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