Muphry’s Law

Browsing the “see also” list on Wikipedia’s Occam’s Razor page, I made a beeline for “Murphy’s Law.” Being a Murphy, I’m relatively familiar with the phrase, but I’ve never looked into its origin. I clicked the link and saw this:

Not to be confused with what?

Turns out, “Muphry’s Law” is fairly recently-coined adage that states “if you write anything criticizing editing or proofing, your writing will contain some kind of typo”.  It’s the Murphy’s Law of literary criticism, and I’m a firm believer.

The law, as defined by John Bangsund of the Society of Editors states:

(a) if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written;
(b) if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;
(c) the stronger the sentiment expressed in (a) and (b), the greater the fault;
(d) any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent. 

Muphry’s Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you. Your readers will always notice errors in a title, in headings, in the first paragraph of anything, and in the top lines of a new page. These are the very places where authors, editors and proofreaders are most likely to make mistakes.

So this is why my book reviews are so hard to edit. Also, now I know how difficult it is to misspell my name on purpose.

Source: Muphry’s Law on Wikipedia, Canberra Society of Editors

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