Case 21: A particularly common spelling mistake

19th August 2002

Filed by: Officer Taylor

The Offence

Jacob Nielsen's bi-weekly Alertbox column talks a lot of good sense about web-site design, and never more so than in his August 19, 2002 column Let Users Control Font Size. However, that column is marred by a very common spelling mistake:

Unfortunately, recent versions of IE have eliminated IE4's good design, replacing it with an approach that has [a] serious usability problem: The text size button is no longer visible by default. Only the miniscule percentage of users who customize their toolbars will get this highly useful button.

``minuscule'' means very, very small. ``miniscule'', on the other hand is not a word. Think ``minus'', not ``miniature''.

The Verdict

OK, English spelling can be difficult and idiosyncratic. But we don't think it's too much to expect someone who likes to refer to himself as ``the smartest person on the web'' to run his insights through a spell-checker before putting them on a web-site where he expects them to be read by at least two hundred thousand people.

The Sentence

We are finding it increasingly difficult to think of lenient sentences for minor offences. Still, we do our best: we sentence Nielsen to find that all the little jars on the top shelf of his fridge are growing mould and have to throw them away, only to find the next day that he really needs some sun-dried tomato paste.

Next case!

Feedback to <> is welcome!