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Common Things Proofreaders Miss (Part 4)

It’s that time again, time for another installment of Common Things Proofreaders Miss!

I actually should start calling this “Common Mistakes Court Reporters Make,” eh?! I like that one better.

Check out this list of common things proofreaders miss when proofreading transcripts for court reporters.

Here are the other installments to this riveting series!

  • Common Things Proofreaders Miss Part 1
  • Common Things Proofreaders Miss Part 2
  • Common Things Proofreaders Miss Part 3
  • Common Things Proofreaders Miss Part 5

These are all words I found while reading real transcripts. I started this list to help you get a better idea of what kind o’ stuff is lurking in all kinds of transcripts. When in doubt, look it up!

The nifty app I recommend, called iAnnotate, has a dictionary feature, which allows you to just highlight the word and select “dictionary.” If it’s a word, but it’s showing up not found (happens with medical terms sometimes), you can highlight the word again and go to “Google”. So nifty!!


Part 4

perimeter / parameter

scarred / scared (also “shinny” vs. “shiny” …. ha)

fathom / phantom

less / lest

heel / heal

where with all / wherewithal

β€œworse case scenario”

in tact / intact

stationary / stationery

depravation / deprivation

lose / loose

basis / bases

diagnosis / diagnoses

anyway / any way


exuberant / exorbitant

you attorney vs. your attorney  (all. the. time.)

BONUS! Just this week, I saw the word “origination” used for “organization”… BE CAREFUL! Don’t skim, and don’t get cocky. Words that start and end with the same letters can sometimes fool our brains.

You are excellent!


What are some other phrases or words that proofreaders miss?

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  1. I STRUGGLE with definitely and separately. As I typed definitely autocorrected the “net” I typed. Thank goodness for autocorrect! I also forget if it is “par” or “per’ arghhhhh!!! (clearly that is not a valid word lol)

    That said, I find that most people struggle with their/there, lose/loose, your/you’re.

    I look forward to my time in your course.

    1. GIRL, I feel your PAIN! 90% of the time, I spell it “seperately” … it’s wrong, but it looks SO RIGHT! πŸ™‚

      1. Ha. You need to smell ” a rat” in the middle of the word. That’s how I learned that one.
        I love it. Love the course too. I’ve come home.

    2. Jennifer – I ALWAYS had trouble with β€œdefinitely” until someone told me the root word is β€œfinite”. That’s the only way it works for me, definitely! Bev

        1. Likewise, understanding the etymology of separate will help the per/par issue. The earliest base is “para,” which means “alongside.” Thus, to prepare means to have the things alongside you before (pre) you need them. The “se” part of separate has the nuance of set apart or withdrawn. Thus, to separate means to put into different or withdrawn or secret piles. I had a fabulous Latin teacher who really drilled etymology. (Although, socially, she sincerely lacked a lot of skills.) I still hear her in my brain when faced with difficult words. Excellent resources:

    3. I had a college English professor tell us a little way to never forget how to spell separate. As a woman telling her husband, named Sep, that she found a rat. Sep! A rat! E! As stupid as it sounds, I bet you’ll never forget again lol!

    4. Jenniffer: Perhaps this might help: Imagine one room with two beds on each side of the room. You divide the space with a wooden “part”ition, thereby se”part’ing” or “separating” them, so your daughter has her own “space” and your son has his own “separate” space, as well. The other clue that “separating” has a rat (“sep-A-RAT-e” in it is a great idea, also! Hope this helps!

    5. I was taught that the E’s are separate from the A’s by my mum.

  2. One of my pains is business – I think it should be spelled buisness (isn’t the correct way pronounced bus-ee-ness? or buzz-ee-ness?). πŸ™‚

    Another word I came across was “demur” instead of “demure”.


  3. Teach – could you get the worksheet in Word so we can try it and save it? I can’t convert PDF effectively. Thanks – Bev

    1. Hey Bev — it’s not a worksheet, just a handout … no need to convert. You can save PDFs just like Word docs, though… and f you print it, you can write all over it, though πŸ˜€

      1. What I finally did was copy/paste it into a Word doc. I like to give it a try and see what I get wrong. Thanks – Bev

      2. Caitin,
        Hilarious typo here…you wrote “and f you” which could be misconstrued as f u!

        1. I’m really enjoying this program and it seems as I read through the comments any questions I may have are already answered! Must mean I’m on the right track πŸ™‚

        2. Oh, this one is too good. I worked at a large legal software company and in order to see the case in full, one needed to type in .fu. We had so much fun telling an angry customer that he needed to type period f u and wait for the silence that happened next! Often they would ask us if we had really just told them that… My son’s initials are wtf, he will have so much fun signing his exams!

          I have noticed cooperate and corporate being misused all the time. I cringe when I read work emails!

  4. Here’s another good one: Gary was on a role. Should be … on a roll.

  5. Jennifer, in the eighth grade (many moons ago), I was taught how to remember separately. The teacher told us to just always think of “a rat” in the word, because most of us want to separate ourselves if we see a rat. πŸ™‚

  6. cherisunshine, I like the “rat” device for remembering separate. I need to share that with my students. (6th graders)

    1. I like it, too! I’ve already used it twice since she posted it πŸ˜€ Thanks, Cheri!!

  7. The other mistake I’ve noticed people make a lot is a part and apart. For some reason, this is the one that drives me the craziest. I actually gave a lesson about it on FB because I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know the correct way to type years, though. Thanks for the tip on that. I would’ve gotten that one wrong. πŸ™‚

  8. Oh MAN, I have a reporter who NEVER gets that one right. It makes my blood boil. It’s literally always backwards.

  9. Caitlin, what about “speciality”? No comment was included with this one. Isn’t “specialty” more commonly used? I just read the definition of “specialty” in the dictionary and it includes a legal component, whereas “speciality” does not. Thanks.

    1. I will add in a comment — speciality is the British spelling πŸ™‚

      1. That’s how I’ve always thought of this word, used most often in British English. But when looking it up, it seems to be interchangeable with the word specialty. I checked several sources for usage but sadly never found a guideline on whether one is more desirable than the other, or when that might be so. So, I’m back to just hearing it more often in British English. The kicker for our purposes though, is that the proofreader didn’t hear the pronunciation to know which word was actually said. So, does that mean we’re to assume they said specialty unless there are other indicators to point to a British speaker? Or do we just highlight it and let the CR do the checking? I’m assuming the last just because as a proof reader we need to make sure we don’t assume what word was used, in any instance. Would love to have your feedback. Sorry for all of the comments that are novella size. I do find these things incredibly interesting! Most of them I know but when I find one such as this, love the research and the other info often found surrounding the actual words’ usage. Speaking of which, did I type words correctly with the apostrophe at the end, indicating the possessive? Now that doesn’t sound right either.

        1. You definitely wouldn’t spend too much time on it; let the court reporter decide πŸ™‚ “The words’ usage” is correct.

        2. That’s a good question! If we come across words that for some reason aren’t Interpreted into English, say for words that don’t have a direct English translation, do we leave them be or look them up? There are many words I can think of in Spanish alone that are very close in spelling, but mean different things.
          If all the words that have varied spelling between American English and British seem to be using the British spellings in the transcript (perhaps because the court reporter is from the UK), should they be corrected?
          Also, are the British spellings actually considered wrong, or is it a matter of sticking to one country’s vocabulary and spelling for consistencies sake? I mean, we wouldn’t change “chips” to “french fries,” right? I know it’s a long shot on it happening, but if I don’t ask, I’ve learned that pretty much guarantees it WILL happen…

          1. Reporters are certified to record English, and even if they understand the foreign language, the chances are pretty slim that they are certified to make the record in that foreign language. That’s why they have interpreters. Most reporters will put a parenthetical in such as (Foreign language spoken.) or (Spanish spoken.) A reporter in America should be using American English spellings. πŸ™‚

  10. I have a salon client who always says “experiment” instead of “experience”! Drives me CRAZY but I don’t correct her in fear of insulting her!

    1. LOL! WOW! That one seems like one where I’d be like, “Um, do you hear yourself?” πŸ˜‰

    2. My sister always says “ammonia” for “pneumonia”….LOL!!! I just noticed my mother-in-law does it, too…..Haha!

  11. Finally reading through these… Ashley – does your salon client happen to be a native Spanish speaker? If so, that could be why. In Spanish, “experimentar” means “to experience”. Kind of like how English speakers will make the mistake of saying they are “embarrazada” to say they’re embarrassed, but are actually saying they’re pregnant! I love false cognates. πŸ™‚

  12. “Receipt” and “Guarantee” are always my achilles heels!

  13. Really useful for me seeing the differences between British and US spelling. I’m making a special note of them!

  14. Isn’t it “worst case scenario”? Merriam-Webster Dictionary has it as “worst-case scenario”. I presume that we should use the hyphenated version?

    1. Yes, it’s worst case scenario. You can definitely hyphenate here, but I believe the non-hyphenated version is also acceptable πŸ™‚

  15. You know what’s terrible? At the end of every lesson, I scroll down and “proofread” the comments. πŸ˜›

    1. The mark of a great proofreader is never being able to turn it off! πŸ™‚

  16. I remember that stationery is paper with the ‘er’ in both.

  17. With years, what if they say the whole of it, like “1980’s?” (I don’t know now if that’s correct or not, but I know I frequently see it that way.)

    1. That would be 1980s. The apostrophe indicates missing letters/numbers (contractions or the missing 19 in ’80s) or to form possession. Unless 1980s are owning something, it won’t take an apostrophe. πŸ™‚

  18. Caitlin,

    I notice people here are referring to worksheets, but I don’t see where those are available. Am I missing something? I would love to be able to practice this stuff. Great info, btw!


    1. Hi, Grace! I’m a PA Team member ’round here. πŸ™‚ On each edition of these posts (Parts 1-5), there’s a print button for each compilation of commonly missed words/phrases. Otherwise, the worksheets that you may see mentioned are those that exist within the course. I see that you’re enrolled in Jumpstart; you’re bound to happen upon them soon!

  19. Question:
    In the example: “worse case scenario”. I am pretty sure that is should be “worst-case scenario” but if a person says the phrase incorrectly, then just like grammar, that can’t be changed, correct?

    1. Absolutely correct. People say the wrong word all the time. However, even when we say “worst-case scenario” correctly, you don’t really hear that “t.” So that’s definitely something you want to point out. If the reporter is sure the witness/attorney/Judge said it incorrectly, she can choose not to correct it. But it’s our job to point out the errors. πŸ˜€

    1. Hi Jen,

      Google is correct. The word is intact, meaning whole or having all the pieces.
      I am not sure where you’re at in the course but you’ll find in there somewhere that most proofreaders and court reporters use Merriam-Webster to check the spelling of words, just because there has been such an explosion of different dictionaries with the internet.


      I hope this helps πŸ™‚

      1. So…people actually spell it “in tact?” Is that why it’s on there? I suppose they confuse it with “With tact.” As in being tactful. Something a lot of people could stand to learn IMO. I know a certain presidential (or two) candidate who certainly failed that course…

      2. FYI, it’s correct to say “I don’t know where you are in the course,” instead of “where you’re at” because you don’t end a phrase or sentence with a preposition.

        (Please hear my gentle tone. I had some really good English teachers who drilled that into me!)

  20. One that I hear way more often than I think I should is idea instead of ideal. Is this another case of us simply highlighting for the court reporter to review?

    1. I’m not quite sure I understand your question. Are you’re wondering if “where with all” is correct? That is actually erroneous (see Part 4 in the blog post). The correct term is wherewithal; however, that doesn’t make sense in the context of your sentence. Could you please clarify your question?

      1. I guess I’m confused because the majority of words on that list are two ways of presenting a word or phrase, so I assumed they all are. Like Heel/Heal, etc. So I was wondering how “Where with all” fit in. It would be a little clearer if the ones that are NOT actually phrases or words were on a seperate list, or in red or something.

        1. Actually, most of the words on the list aren’t the same words. They may be homonyms (words that sound exactly alike) or simply words/phrases that sound (and look) extremely similar. If you look them up in a dictionary, they have different meanings. Your challenge is to keep them all straight. πŸ™‚ In the case of wherewithal, the definition in Merriam-Webster is “means, resources; specifically : money .” Where with all is an adverb + a prepositional phrase, and a strange one at that! Perhaps as in “He was where with all of his friends?!?”

          1. Sorry, I meant similar, not “the same.” Not feeling well so a little fuzzy heads…”In tact” is an odd one too. I can’t even think of a use of it off the top of my head, where “tactfully” or “tactful” wouldn’t work better. Ah well, I guess I’ve tapped out my brain power for the day.

  21. It is an important distinction, absolutely. Yes, there is a big difference between in tact and intact! You nailed it.

  22. Diagnoses / Diagnosis is listed on part two and part four I have seen so far. ?

    1. It’s a very common error in transcripts, so this isn’t the last time you’ll see it, either. πŸ™‚

  23. I am reviewing this course from the beginning because I saw on Facebook that new “stuff” has been added. That said, here I am doing a major dissection on the phrase “worse case scenario” — only because I wasn’t clear on what you were trying to say.

    I have always said “worst” as opposed to “worse.” I am correct. What I wanted to say here is that there is a difference between the two — so for argument sake, I’ll regurgitate some notes taken from the internet.

    Worse is used to compare only two things. Example: My spelling is worse than hers. There’s a comparison between the two.

    Worst is used when comparing three or more things and/or when you’re speaking of extremes. Example: My spelling is worse than hers, but his is the worst of all! There is a comparison of three things but there is also the understanding that “his” is the worst of all — meaning there is an extreme in the comparisons.

    Also, “worst” will always infinitive word “the.” Example: “His is the worst!”

    This brings to mind one last thing. Be aware when the comparison is implied. Example: His is the worst (of all).

    The logical following of the words are: bad, worse, worst. Example: Things are pretty bad now, but if worse comes to worst, we may have to do something drastic.

    So, “worse case scenario” doesn’t make sense because it’s not the extreme. ??


    1. Correction:
      Also, “worst” will always follow the infinitive word “the.” Example: His is the worst!

  24. You really dissected this! : ) Thanks for sharing your notes!

    1. They have a website, but I am not sure if they have an app. You could always do a search in the Apple store.

  25. I love your candid way of speaking. Once upon a time, I was able to spot misspellings fairly quickly but now taking this course helps me remember to not get “cocky.” This is the most fun I have had in a long while taking any course online.

    Thank you, Caitlin

  26. A mistake that I notice fairly commonly is writers or speakers saying ‘reality’ company instead of ‘real estate’ company. If someone misspeaks this word, would that be an example of where we would see [sic] in the transcript?

    1. A clarification on the above . . . what the person probably means to say is ‘realty’ instead of ‘reality’.

      1. Yes, if it looks off, always mark it. Overall, it’s up to the CR to make the final decision. πŸ™‚

  27. “Words that start and end with the same letters can sometimes fool our brains.”

    This actually is not a “sometimes” thing. It IS how our brains work! [Cognitive psychology]

  28. Is there a "worse case scenario" AND a "worst case scenario", depending on context?

    1. “Worse” is a comparative adjective–meaning it compares two things and “worst” is a superlative adjective–meaning the most extreme case as well as comparing 3 or more things. “Worst-case scenario” is the correct form.πŸ˜‰

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