Georgetown’s commencement ceremony making headlines for the wrong reasons

By Catherine Welborn

I wish I could say that Georgetown University’s terrific commencement speakers were receiving all the attention, but they’ve been overshadowed by the spelling error on the cover of the graduation program (shown above).


It’s a minor error in the sense that the transposed letters are easy to miss. I’m sure that many audience members didn’t even notice the mistake. However, the blunder went viral, turning it into quite the embarrassment for Georgetown.

Georgetown is a top-ranked university; you wouldn’t expect to see proofing errors on any of its literature. More interesting is that professors from the school’s linguistics department developed the first spell check system for IBM in the 1970s. You’d think they’d have mastered the art of proofreading.

To be fair, it’s the kind of mistake anyone could make, even the savviest editor or biggest nitpicker.  I have to feel a little bad for Georgetown and whoever approved the commencement programs. My guess is that the inside of the booklet was carefully checked and that the cover was just overlooked.  Let this unfortunate event serve as a reminder to proofread carefully every document we produce, and when possible to have multiple people check our work.

If you want to avoid the errors and typos that make others second-guess your intelligence and professionalism, be sure to check out our guide, Proofread Like a Pro. You’ll learn a systematic approach that takes the guesswork out of proofing, so you’ll never embarrass yourself or your organization.

[Image Source]

What are the worst proofreading errors you’ve seen?


2 responses to “Georgetown’s commencement ceremony making headlines for the wrong reasons

  1. I feel covers are often overlooked, because they’re expected to be correct considering they’re the easiest. What an unfortunate thing for them, as it doesn’t look well on their behalves. I bet Princeton is laughing at this and Harvard’s coffee mug flub.

    • Catherine Welborn

      Uri, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I think you’re right; many proofreaders would overlook a cover. Just goes to show you that every word should be carefully proofed.

      I’d forgetten about the Harvard coffee mug incident, so thanks for reminding me of that one. For readers who missed it, you can see a picture here.

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