I am copyediting and doing layout on a play that includes a few plays on words and intentional misspellings. At first glance they read like typos. I am wondering if the convention is that I should be styling them differently (as I would, for example, for words in another language), or if it's best to leave it to the reader to trust that the "mistake" was intentional. For example, a line includes the phrase "next of skin" instead of "next of kin". I hate the idea that a reader would wonder if that was on purpose. Thoughts?

  • No matter what you do, some readers will wonder if it's a mistake. If the rest of your work demonstrates an artful and thoroughgoing grasp of the "rules" of English, smart readers will readily enough see your intent.
    – Robusto
    Nov 26, 2016 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


As long as there are enough evidence and context clues around the phrases, I would trust the reader with figuring out them. If not, it's probably best to restyle them.

  • I agree. The comment about some readers may misunderstand anyway. So, it's probably best to use style as is stated in this answer. Nov 27, 2016 at 19:37

There is a whole section in Godel Escher Bach on this precise topic (a dialogue where it is suggested that a small numbers of pages left in the book is a signal that informs the reader that the work is almost over and so other means can be tried, like voluntary disseminations of typos and apelling erors, uich of curse happen in de seim dialog. Aighly recomended book. End so, the and od the book or of the message is not inferred by it's lengt).

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