Good Prose Month: Copy Chief Benjamin Dreyer Provides a List of Common Errors

Editor's Note: In conjunction with his publication of his new book, "Good Prose," Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author Tracy Kidder and editor Richard Todd will host “Good Prose Month” on, with the goal of bringing together the strongest voices in nonfiction to share insight into the writing and editing process with the next generation of authors. Every day during the month of January, visit for a new Good Prose tip, lesson, or story from bestselling authors, award-winning journalists, acclaimed editors, and favorite storytellers. The conversation will continue on Twitter with a weekly #GoodProse chat about the craft of writing, hosted by selected authors from a range of nonfiction genres.

Benjamin Dreyer is the VP Executive Managing Editor & Copy Chief of Random House Publishing Group. Find Ben on Twitter @bcdreyer.

Wrong vs. Right

abbatoir / abattoir

Ackroyd, Dan / Aykroyd, Dan

ad nauseum / ad nauseam

annoint / anoint

artic / arctic

Atilla / Attila

barbituate  / barbiturate

Baum, Frank L. / Baum, L. Frank

Beautiful and the Damned, The / Beautiful and Damned, The

Bhudda/Bhuddist / Buddha/Buddhist

Blackhawk Down / Black Hawk Down

Bleeker Street (NYC) / Bleecker Street

Brady, Matthew (photographer) / Brady, Mathew

Br’er Rabbit  / Brer Rabbit

Britanny (the province) / Brittany

Brittania or Brittannia / Britannia

Buffet, Warren / Buffett, Warren

Bullfinch’s Mythology / Bulfinch’s Mythology

Bunson burner / Bunsen burner

Caesar’s Palace / Caesars Palace

Cage, Nicholas / Cage, Nicolas

Cash, Roseanne / Cash, Rosanne

chaise lounge / chaise longue (exceptions allowed in dialogue)

Cincinatti / Cincinnati

Cousin It / Cousin Itt

Cornwall, Patricia / Cornwell, Patricia

Deaver, Jeffrey / Deaver, Jeffery

dilletante / dilettante

diptheria / diphtheria

dumbell / dumbbell

Ebbetts Field / Ebbets Field

elegaic / elegiac

emnity  / enmity

Faithful, Marianne / Faithfull, Marianne

Finnegan’s Wake / Finnegans Wake

Fontainebleu / Fontainebleau

Fort Meyers (Fla.) / Fort Myers

fuschia / fuchsia

geneology  / genealogy

Ghandi / Gandhi

[any number of misspellings] / Ginsberg, Allen

Gormé, Edie / Gormé, Eydie

Graham, Sheila / Graham, Sheilah

Handel, George Frederic / Handel, George Frideric

Hepburn, Katherine / Hepburn, Katharine

Hiassen, Carl / Hiaasen, Carl

Hitler, Adolph / Hitler, Adolf

“Here! Here!” / “Hear! Hear!”

Holiday, Judy / Holliday, Judy

Holliday, Billie / Holiday, Billie

Howard’s End / Howards End

Hyannisport / Hyannis Port

infinitessimal / infinitesimal

Jeopardy (quiz show) / Jeopardy!

Jesus Christ, Superstar / Jesus Christ Superstar

Julliard / Juilliard

Kelly, Kitty / Kelley, Kitty

Kreuger, Freddy (of Elm Street) / Krueger, Freddy

Lady Chatterly’s Lover / Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Lee, Michelle / Lee, Michele

Leigh, Vivian / Leigh, Vivien

Liebovitz, Annie / Leibovitz, Annie

[any number of misspellings] / leprechaun

longeur / longueur

Love’s Labours Lost / Love’s Labour’s Lost

MacBeth / Macbeth

March, Frederic / March, Fredric

McKellan, Sir Ian / McKellen, Sir Ian

Meyer, Stephanie / Meyer, Stephenie

Minelli, Liza / Minnelli, Liza

miniscule / minuscule

mispell / misspell

Mitterand, François / Mitterrand, François

naptha / naphtha

Newberry Medal / Newbery Medal

newstand / newsstand

[any number of misspellings] / Nietzsche

no-man’s land / no-man’s-land

ocurred/occured / occurred

O’Hara, Scarlet / O’Hara, Scarlett

O’Henry / Henry, O.

O’Keefe, Georgia / O’Keeffe, Georgia

“Old Man River” / “Ol’ Man River

Olson, Jimmy (DC comics) / Olsen, Jimmy

“Once more into the breach” / “Once more unto the breach”

opthamologist  / ophthalmologist

paraphenalia / paraphernalia

Perotta, Tom / Perrotta, Tom

pharoah / pharaoh

Picadilly / Piccadilly

place name / place-name

Portrait of Dorian Gray, The / Picture of Dorian Gray, The

Poe, Edgar Allen / Poe, Edgar Allan

Priestly, Jason / Priestley, Jason

Publisher’s Weekly / Publishers Weekly

Rand Corporation / RAND Corporation

[any number of misrenderings] / Ratched, Nurse

Ray, Rachel / Ray, Rachael

Revelations (N.T. book) / Revelation

Rice, Condoleeza  / Rice, Condoleezza

roomate / roommate

Roxanne (Rostand character) / Roxane

sacreligious / sacrilegious

Saint-Laurent, Yves / Saint Laurent, Yves

Saville Row / Savile Row

Sex in the City / Sex and the City

Showboat (novel, musical) / Show Boat

Sierra Nevadas, the / Sierra Nevada, the

Smithsonian Institute / Smithsonian Institution

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” / “Over the Rainbow”

Sorenson, Theodore (Ted) / Sorensen, Theodore (Ted)

Steele, Danielle / Steel, Danielle

Stendahl / Stendhal

Streisand, Barbara / Streisand, Barbra

Sweet Smell of Success, The / Sweet Smell of Success

Theresa, Mother / Teresa, Mother

Theresa of Avila, Saint / Teresa of Avila (or Ávila), Saint

transcendant / transcendent

[any number of misrenderings] / Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The

Tuscon, Arizona / Tucson, Arizona

Warner Brothers / Warner Bros.

West, Nathaniel / West, Nathanael

Wright, Russell (designer) / Wright, Russel

Ulman, Tracy / Ullman, Tracey

Ulmann, Liv / Ullmann, Liv

Unger, Felix (N. Simon charac.) / Ungar, Felix

Vieria, Meredith / Vieira, Meredith

villian / villain

viniagrette / vinaigrette

Wasteland, The (Eliot) / Waste Land, The

Winnie the Pooh / Winnie-the-Pooh

Ziegfield, Florenz / Ziegfeld, Florenz


And by the way, the rain in Spain doesn’t fall mainly on the plain. It stays mainly in the plain.