Grammar Using [sic] Properly |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Using [sic] Properly

Sic is a Latin term meaning “thus.” It is used to indicate that something incorrectly written is intentionally being left as it was in the original. Sic is usually italicized and always surrounded by brackets to indicate that it was not part of the original. Place [sic] right after the error.

Example: She wrote, “They made there [sic] beds.”

Note: The correct sentence should have been, “They made their beds.”

Why use [sic] at all? Why not just make the correction? If you are quoting material, it is generally expected that you will transcribe it exactly as it appeared in the original.

The word sic is also a command to attack (used especially in commanding a dog). The past tense is either sicced or sicked.

Sic ‘em, Fido. Fido sicced (or sicked) the burglar.

Note: With this meaning, the word is not italicized or enclosed in brackets.

Be careful, however, because the word sick, meaning ill, is also a homonym of sic.

Ananda felt sick with the flu yesterday.


Pop Quiz
Place [sic] where needed.

1. I can lend you no more then ten dollars.
2. Who’s turn is it to speak?
3. I don’t know witch way to turn.
4. How did the weather effect your vacation plans?
5. Don’t you think that every one should attend the meeting?


Pop Quiz Answers

1. I can lend you no more then [sic] ten dollars. (than)
2. Who’s [sic] turn is it to speak? (Whose)
3. I don’t know witch [sic] way to turn. (which)
4. How did the weather effect [sic] your vacation plans? (affect)
5. Don’t you think that every one [sic] should attend the meeting? (everyone)

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

171 responses to “Using [sic] Properly”

  1. Eb Roell says:

    If the same mistake is made several times in a document – in this case eight times in a long paragraph – is it proper to put [sic] behind every one or just behind the first occurrence?

    Thank you.

    • Jane says:

      I don’t know of a rule about this. It would certainly be proper to put [sic] after each quoted error. If the error is not within a quote, you may just correct it entirely in your draft or at least after the first notification of an error in the original.

    • Michael Richmond says:

      With all due respect you seem rather clueless about the many uses of sic. To ignore the very important ironic use (and off the top of my head three other usages)then imply CMOS supports you strikes me as . . .

      Other than this glaring sin of omission I like the text a great deal.

      • The title of this blog post is not “The Many Uses of [sic].” The purpose is to explain the most common use for [sic].

        • apratim chaudhary says:

          Example: Learn and unlimit(sic) yourself.
          Is writing (sic) over here correct?
          Intentionally making a new word and writing (sic) after that is okay?

          • Although it is an uncommon practice, sometimes [sic] is used to indicate ironic use of a word. Brackets, not parentheses, should be used, and there should be a space before [sic].

      • Rob says:

        I love when people say “with all due respect” before they put their foot in their mouth.

        • Catherine S. says:

          Regarding he/his, they/their: It is appropriate to use they/their when speaking/writing in generalities, that is ,when it could be female or male. In larger amounts of text you can also switch between he/his and she/hers.

        • Cathy Smith says:

          I am in complete agreement with your comment that corrects this common agreement error! While many people working from the descriptive rather than prescriptive end of the conventions dichotomy have simply switched to using plural pronouns in general examples, as Catherine S. advocates, there is not actually a clause in the conventions that allows for such an agreement error just to satisfy sentiments favoring gender neutrality while also avoiding the somewhat awkward use of both pronouns in singular forms! Rather than resorting to this exceptional error, writers can instead utilize both plural antecedents and pronouns in their general examples. Thus an instructor’s observation that “Even the strong writer can benefit from fresh eyes reading and evaluating his/her work in the tutoring center” would become “Even strong writers can benefit from fresh eyes reading and evaluating their work in the tutoring center,” not “Even the strong writer can benefit from fresh eyes reading and evaluating their work in the tutoring center.” Common usage patterns and the ever-evolving nature of language do drive changes that adapt even formal conventions (splitting of infinitives for $500, Alex), but the agreed-upon conventions found in existing writing manuals often can provide less drastic solutions for resolving agreement errors.

    • Janusz Peters says:

      If you have a long quote [sic] must be used on every occasion that the emblem of a blemish in the use of language is needed.
      There is an alternative, if possible find a better quotation, if you can’t, paraphrase and remember to give a reference (citation).

  2. Cynthia says:

    How do you correct the error. Would it be appropriate as follows: [sic correction]? Do you italicize sic and the corrected word or just sic?
    Thank you.

    • You do not actually correct the error. You leave the incorrect word and only italicize and put sic in brackets.

      Example: She wrote, “The dogs ate there [sic] food.”

      • steve says:

        You could also make a correction in brackets and leave “sic” out altogether. Example:

        original: The dogs ate there food.

        quotation: The dogs ate [their] food.

        • In formal writing [sic] alone is preferred. However, informally, you could use your method.

          • ATO says:

            The formal method of correcting is the use of “recte” to indicate the correction. In the example, the error could be noted and corrected as follows: “there [sic] [recte their] food.”

            • That is interesting. We have not, however, been able to find any major style manuals or grammar sources that recommend the use of “recte” in modern written English. Wikipedia does, however, define the word and acknowledge its use, especially in the field of palaeography (the study of ancient writing). Apparently the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music Style Sheet recommends its use.

          • zar says:

            Scrutinising a poorly-composed document isn’t the most appealing prospect in the first place but the method described above would make traversing one a far more unpleasant, cumbersome experience…

  3. Charles says:

    Your usage is incomplete. Following unquoted text, authors uncommonly may insert sic to indicate ironic use. Quoted or not, sic is used to indicate a surprising or paradoxical word, phrase, or fact that is not a mistake and is to be read as it stands.

    • Yes, these less common uses are given in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. We tend to favor The Chicago Manual of Style and The AP Stylebook, commonly referenced by writers, which emphasize using sic for misspellings, errors, or peculiar usages.

  4. Haley says:

    How would one correct the following error?

    The message sent to her account read, “Who do you think you are, trader [sic]!”, and was sent three minutes before the message to Joni was sent.

    I have inserted the sic, but am confused as to the exclamatory punctuation of the quoted statement. Should there be a space between the closing bracket and the exclamation mark?

    • “Who do you think you are, trader [sic]!” is correct, though awkward. Since sic is never mandatory, there are other choices, like saying before or after the quotation, “The reader will note that traitor is spelled wrong.” Or you could stop or interrupt the quote before the misspelling and simply tell readers that the message sent to the account called the person a traitor, but misspelled it.

      • guest says:

        Or people can just spell words right in the first place, then we3 wouldn’t have a problem! lol

        • ShadyJ says:

          “then we3 [sic] wouldn’t have a problem!”

          • Bo says:

            “then we3 [sic] wouldn’t [sic] have a problem!”

            Actually I find this word to be a weapon used to correct the ignorant. I know this to be true, as a [Pro-Se] litigant, “complainant” who, after requesting an attorney be appointed, was determined by a district judge in the Prima Facia, stage of the case, to have, “ably” sic, represented himself to this point, that was for almost a year.
            Now, I understand how the defendant eight [sic] me for lunch at the end but, I believe I still have a Continuing Violation. I even got the attention of an appeals judge for six months [sic], three months because I motioned the court for a continuation due to an emergency and, it was not only granted but the requested documents went from 10 to 5, but was still foreign to me.
            But Winston Churchill put it best, someone who represents themselves in a court of law, has a fool for a client…
            Thanks, I am better prepared for the next go round…….

      • Teresa says:

        What about the the exclamation point? It was actually a question, wasn’t it?

        • Either a question mark or exclamation point could be acceptable. The Chicago Manual of Style says:
          6.72: Exclamation rather than question
          A sentence in the form of a direct question may be marked as rhetorical by the use of an exclamation point in place of a question mark.

          How could you possibly believe that!
          When will I ever learn!

  5. Richelle says:

    can you use [sic] after an italicized title that has an incorrect word in it?

    • Yes. Use [sic] to indicate that something incorrectly written is intentionally being left as it was in the original. However, it would be clearer to write [sic] in roman if the text is italicized. For example: Gone Width [sic] the Wind.

  6. David says:

    Not trying to be a Nazi, but a homonym is a word that shares the spelling while a homophone is a word that shares the sound. I get them mixed up all the time so I thought I might post this for the benefit of those like me who may confuse the two.

    • In the sense of strict linguistics, the definition of homonym is “one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning.” True homonyms are both homographs (spelled alike but different in meaning or pronunciation) and homophones (pronounced alike but different in meaning or spelling). The word homonym is often used, as we did in our blog, to refer to words that are either homographs or homophones. says, “The more familiar word homonym, heard in classrooms from early grades on, has become an all-inclusive term that describes not only words that are both homophonic and homographic, but words that are either one or the other. In common parlance, then, words that sound alike, look alike, or both, can be called homonyms.”

      One of the definitions of homonym in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is “a homophone.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines homonym as “One of two or more words that have the same sound and often the same spelling but differ in meaning.”

  7. Gay says:

    If a quoted sentence contains the words “a threaded connection elements” is it proper to put sic after the word “a” or should it go after “elements”?

    • Sic is usually italicized and placed right after the error. If the word a is an error, it should go after a.
      a [sic] threaded connection elements

      • blast0id says:

        to me, it seems the error in “a threaded connection elements” is a missing word [of]. So would the proper correction be “a threaded connection [sic] elements”?

  8. Rich Brown says:

    I am quoting a passage with an error which is that the author has attempted to use a pair of parenthetic commas but done so incorrectly. The result is two commas in the wrong place. Where should [sic] go?

    • While commonly placed following a misspelled or wrongly used word in an original document or passage, we have never seen [sic] used to indicate punctuation errors. We fear that wherever you place it, readers will assume that the word immediately preceding [sic] is somehow in error. If the passage you wish to quote sufficiently conveys the message you are needing, we would just leave it alone. If you feel it is necessary to point out the incorrect commas, you might try an explanation within brackets, e.g., [note to readers: the pair of commas . . . ].

  9. Hope says:

    What if a quote has more than one misspelled word, do you use [sic] after each misspelled word?

    • Yes, since [sic] is to be placed immediately after the error.

      • Fergo says:

        I was curious as to insertions that add context or ‘readabilitiy’ to a quote. For instance:

        …argues that ‘characters in these [grunge fiction] texts challenge imaginary borders’…

        Obviously there is no error, but in the same vein, alerting the reader to an additional contextual piece of information which is vital to the communication. Is there any need to justify the ‘[grunge fiction]’ by adding [sic] at the end of the quote, or is it sufficiently implied by the parentheses?

  10. Paul says:

    I am working on cleaning up an unofficial compilation of regulations.

    If there is an incorrect citation to a section number, e.g., 648.5(x) should be 648.5(y), is it appropriate to use [sic] after the incorrect citation with a footnote that says: “The correct citation is 648.5(y).”?

    • [Sic] is more commonly used to indicate that something incorrectly written is intentionally being left as it was in the original. “Cleaning up” a document as you describe involves correcting the errors and [sic] would not be used.

  11. Katie says:

    If a sentence is unnecessarily capitalized in a quotation, should [sic] be placed afterwards in that situation, as well?

    • While commonly placed following a misspelled or wrongly used word in an original document or passage, we have never seen [sic] used to indicate capitalization errors. It is possible that wherever you place it, readers will assume that the word immediately preceding [sic] is spelled incorrectly. If the passage you wish to quote sufficiently conveys the message you are needing, we would just leave it alone.

      • Nick says:

        I have one of those Irish Fitz-starting surnames where the following part of the name is customarily initial-capped, as it would be were it written alone, or as the latter part of an O’-starting, Mc- or Mac-starting surname. However, many ignoramuses (especially professional editors, proof readers and such) apparently know better than I how my surname should be capitalized and it is far from uncommon to have it appear incorrectly in print with only the initial “F” upper-cased, even if I am the source of the original text. (This common ignorance has caused very many Fitz-es to give up trying to retain the correct capitalization of their surnames, increasing the ignorance and depressing the correct usage.) Were I ever to quote such a “misprint” of my own name, I would certainly, and I’d argue correctly, flag the error with a “[sic]”.

        I can’t imagine the issues faced by some of the real purists who continue to insist that the correct capitalization of such names is fitzWhoever (the “fitz” part of these names is a hand-written corruption of the French “fils”, so such names mean “son of [Whoever]”, much like the O’-s the M[a]c-s).

  12. Katie says:

    Should I use [sic] to show that the grammar of the quote is incorrect?

  13. Di says:

    What about the use of [sic] as an indication of irony (amongst others things) as stated above by Charles. I’m interested in how [sic] is used in those situations. Do you have examples?

    • says:

      As mentioned in January 2012, such other uses are uncommon. You may wish to look at the discussion in Wikipedia, Sic, especially sections 2.4 Wordplay and puns, 2.5 Form of ridicule, and 4.1 Insensitivity.

  14. Beth says:

    I often must include large pertinent sections from contracts in the briefs I type. These contracts are so full of grammatical errors, that I’m embarrassed typing them. Is there a way to put “sic” at the end of each error-filled section?

    • [Sic] is used after each individual error. Instead, you might consider placing a disclaimer before the contract sections, such as: “The following sections from the ABC contract contain grammatical errors but are included here exactly as they appear in the contract since they do not impact the legal issues at hand,” or something to that effect. However, if there’s any chance the grammatical errors have led to any part of what is being disputed by the parties, you may be better off identifying every error with [sic].

  15. Dara says:

    I am writing a piece using UK english but quoting a lot of American writers – should I keep the American spelling in the quote and put [sic] after each word that uses the American spelling?

    • Since [sic] is usually used to indicate something that is incorrectly written, and the spelling in the quotes is not incorrectly written in American English, we do not recommend using [sic]. You may want to mention in your article that American spellings may differ from those used in UK English.

      • zar says:

        The piece is in UK English & therefore [sic] can be used to denote the USA English spellings as it is certainly incorrect in the former idiom.

        • The term [sic] indicates that something contains an error in the language it was written in. It should not change based on the reader’s native language. In a global society, it may be necessary to advise the reader that some of the spellings are different, rather than labeling the words as “errors.”

  16. Gordie says:

    “Example: Ananda felt sick with the flu yesterday.”


    “Example: Ananda [sic] felt sick with the flu yesterday.”
    (should be Amanda?)

    “Example: Ananda phelt [sic] with the flu yesterday.”
    “Example: Ananda felt sic [sic] with the flu yesterday.”

  17. Fred says:

    I have seen some texts use [sic] when quoting politically incorrect quotes, such as:

    “If a teacher wanted to set a child extra homework, he [sic] would need the permission of the principal.”

    Is this common? And should I put the [sic] into the above quote in my own writing? I can see both sides of the argument here…

    • We do not consider this use of [sic] common. There is a similar question in the Q&A section of The Chicago Manual of Style:

      Q. An author has insisted on placing a “sic” after quoting authors who use “him” or “himself” to refer in general to persons rather than using gender-inclusive language. We think this is a bit pretentious and that the quoted material should stand on its own. Do the wise editors have any advice?

      A. The wise editors agree. “Sic” is used to clarify that an error appeared in the original and was not introduced by the writer quoting it. No one reading “him” or “himself” would think it was a typo.

      • Louise Phillips says:

        In the case of ambiguity of gender of a noun, where one also wishes to remain politically correct, I feel I would use “they” in place of “he.”
        Would this be grammatically incorrect?
        I realize “they” can read as singular and as plural, which may, in your example text, group the child and teacher as one.

        Fred says:
        October 22, 2013, at 4:12 pm
        I have seen some texts use [sic] when quoting politically incorrect quotes, such as:

        “If a teacher wanted to set a child extra homework, he [sic] would need the permission of the principal.”

        Is this common? And should I put the [sic] into the above quote in my own writing? I can see both sides of the argument here…

        • says:

          We wrote two articles about the singular they that you may find helpful: How Can They Be Singular? and Singular They, Part II. We do agree that, in the particular example you note, using they might confuse some readers about whether just the teacher is being referred to or both the child and the teacher. A better method in such cases may be to rewrite: Teachers wanting to set children extra homework would need the permission of the principal.

  18. jmhdsn says:

    May [sic] be used to indicate a word has been left out?

    Ex.: “In my opinion has sufficient vision to drive.”

    It should read, “In my opinion he has sufficient vision to drive.” Should I put [sic] in? I have been told not to make any corrections or additions, except for the use of [sic].

    • It is strange that you have been told not to make any corrections or additions. Most editors would do this: “In my opinion [he] has sufficient vision to drive.”

  19. Claire says:

    If the text the error is in is already italicised, do you unitalicise the [sic] or leave it italicised?

  20. don dillman says:

    Does Chuck do the work himself? “He do.” Bad choice of verb. Watching a recent postgame interview with a famous athlete, I counted twenty such “wrong verb” mistakes. If the reporter would have written a newspaper account of that interview, would [sic] have been appropriate to indicate each of those twenty, or has our society changed to a point where such grammar has become acceptable and somewhat the norm?

  21. S says:

    If there is a spelling error rather than a grammar error, do you still use [sic]?

  22. K v Subbarao says:

    Excellently explained. Thank you.

  23. C says:

    Whoever made the use of “sic” possible, why did he/she use “sic” when it sounds like “sick”? Or does it evolve from Latin?

  24. Sara says:

    I am currently writing a formal paper for my English class and a few of the phrases I am quoting contain contractions such as “can’t” and “won’t” Should I put [sic] after them? Thanks!

  25. HPenton says:

    My iPod frequently corrects incorrect intentions or slang. Is (Apple sic) gonna be OK to use in grammar to denote you didn’t intend to write the message that way because it changed just when you hit the send button?

    • That’s a clever idea, but it’s not just Apple products that do this. Normally, the word sic is used to indicate an error. Sic is italicized, surrounded by brackets, placed immediately following the error, and no other word is used in the brackets. We recommend proofreading messages before sending.

  26. Bob says:

    I’m writing a report and quoting a sentence that includes the word “likely” in bold – i.e. “I believe he is likely to be capable of undertaking this”. The original author wrote “likely” in bold specifically to draw attention to it. So is it correct usage to put [sic] after the word likely to indicate that the bold type is what the original author deliberately intended? In the context of my report I don’t want it to appear that it is me that is drawing attention to the word.

    • While commonly placed following a misspelled or wrongly used word in an original document or passage, sic is not generally used to indicate punctuation or typeface errors. We believe that if you write sic after “likely,” readers will assume that the word is spelled incorrectly.

    • M says:

      It is standard to indicate whether bold or italics in a quote were either included in the original text or added later to emphasise a particular point.

      The appropriate way to do this should be indicated in whichever style guide you are using, but as an example, here is a copy and paste from the University of South Australia’s style guide:

      How do I indicate I have added italics to emphasise words within a quote?
      Insert square bracket with ’emphasis added’ after the page number, for example, ‘ … raises the question of what desire is’ (Smith 1991, p. 343 [emphasis added]).

      Do I need to clarify the author’s use of italics within the original when I quote?
      Yes. This is done by inserting square bracket with ‘original emphasis’ added after the page number, for example, ‘identities that are not simple to describe’ (Smith 1991, p. 26 [original emphasis]).

      • Bob asked specifically about using the term sic. His question was in regard to changing the author’s boldface word to regular font. The rules you cited apply to clarification of italics. Perhaps the University of South Australia’s style guide allows “[original emphasis]” to apply to boldface as well.

  27. Jill Madison says:

    I format legal documents at a law firm. Opposing firms send discovery to us for our clients to answer. To prepare these documents, I scan to convert them into our system and format using Styles in Word to create a document that mimics or looks exactly like the one that was sent to use from opposing counsel.

    Styles seems to be an under-used skill by many secretaries … I come across a lot of numbering errors. My question is this: I use (sic) throughout the documents that I format as needed per spelling errors or grammatical errors, but how would I properly indicate an error in numbering since there is an automatic half-inch space between the number and the first word of the sentence in styles? (I use Styles and iHyperstyles when formatting.) I’ve used [(sic)Error in numbering.] before the first word of the sentence ((sic) italicized of course) within the legal documents, however, I’m not sure if this is proper or acceptable on a professional platform.

    What would you suggest?

    • We suggest that you consult a style guide that specializes in legal documents. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, published by the Harvard Law Review Association and the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation, prepared and published by the Association of Legal Writing Directors and Darby Dickerson.

  28. Jill Madison says:

    Why wasn’t my question answered and/or put on the web page? Wasn’t it good enough? I believe it was a very valid question about using (sic) properly in legal documents when numbering is involved … maybe the Host doesn’t know the answer … Hmmmm … the ones that he or she doesn’t know he or she doesn’t allow through. Nice.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Your question was received on February 6, and a response was posted on February 12. We issue a newsletter to over 42,000 subscribers each week and receive about 35,000 different visitors to our website each day, several of whom submit questions to us, which we answer to the best of our abilities. When we received your question, we did not realize that you were the most important person in the world, and that your question should be moved ahead of everyone else’s. We deeply apologize.

  29. Raghav Gupta says:

    I read through the entire thread very patiently, and it is simply brilliant. Thank you! I am sic[k] with happiness! You have totally clarified all my doubts I had, and now I can confidently yews [sic] whenever required!

  30. mjazzguitar says:

    I just saw a paragraph that had number of errors in it.
    Instead of putting (sic) after every word, they just put it in front of the whole paragraph.
    Am I correct in assuming this is incorrect?

  31. Michael says:

    Thank you for this. It was a very straight-forward explanation — exactly what I was looking for.

  32. Adam says:

    How do I acknowledge sensational spelling or intentionally misspelled brand names in formal writing? For example, Froot Loops, Creme Egg, Mortal Kombat, etc. It may seem obvious for the well-known brands, but how would I let the reader know that that is actually the correct spelling for lesser known name brands?

    • Most readers probably recognize the names of the brands you identified and realize the misspelling is intentional. If you feel it is necessary to point out the intentional misspelling of the names, just say so in parentheses in as few words as possible.

      • Nick says:

        Also, check if it’s a registered trademark. It almost certainly will be and then adding the circled-R trademark sign immediately after the term should indicate that the creative spelling is the result of deliberate effort on the part of a marketing or branding department somewhere.

  33. Jim says:

    Fido sicked [sic] the burglar.

  34. Crystal T says:

    I am typing up an audio transcript in which the speaker incorrectly uses the word linguistics when she means logistics. Would sic apply in this case? Does it apply when transcribing spoken word vs written?

  35. haze says:

    what if [sic] is part of a title (not the first word), do you capitalize? (e.g. “Luv [sic] All of Me”, or “Luv [Sic] All of Me” … also, what if you cannot italicize font in whatever program you’re using, is it ok to leave it normal? thank you.

    • We recommend capitalizing as a signal to the reader that [Sic] is part of the author’s title. Where italics are unavailable, normal quotation marks are the next best option, based on the Chicago Manual of Style‘s recommendation that “Titles of long or short works appearing within an italicized title are enclosed in quotation marks.”

  36. Melissa says:

    If there are multiple misspellings in a written quote, do I insert multiple [sic]’s or just one at the end?

    • Please see our February 17, 2013, reply to Hope.

      • Darren Collins says:

        I know from your many responses and explanations that [sic] is to be used after each error, but when quoting someone where there are multiple errors within a short quote it raises the issue of shaming the quoted. A singular [sic] after the final quote feels discreet and unambiguous when the errors are obvious. This is a real-world example someone else used in an email I received, and I admit I liked the usage because it was obviously literally quoted, but did not unnecessarily (repeatedly) shame:

        ““I am not apposed for a data contractor to become an Approved electrical contractor as long as they can tick all our safety boxes, therefore feel free to pass on my contact details to them so we can discuss options with them. I hope this will elevate your concerns.” [sic]”

        I still understand this is incorrect usage, but maybe not so bad!

        • The use of a single [sic] at the end might not give enough information to the reader of the quote regarding the errors. If you are opposed to using [sic] after each error, other options include silent correction or making the corrections in square brackets, e.g., [alleviate]. We agree with recent direction from the Chicago Manual of Style that outside an academic setting, [sic] may be viewed as impolite or condescending.

  37. Ben says:

    Is it proper to use sic to note an error in facts, like a newspaper headline “100 people killed in a plane crash” and then later when the number is actually 104 people would you use “100 [sic] people killed in a plane crash”

    • It is all right to use sic for factual errors, but unless the error is obviously wrong, as in this case: When the Civil War started in 1961 [sic], few believed it would last long, you may be causing unneeded confusion. In your example it would be better to say something like, “The headline stated that 100 people were killed. The actual number was 104.”

  38. Hillary says:

    Is it ok for me to use “sic” when writing in British English, but quoting a text in American English. E.g. he said, “organizations(sic) of this nature….should be closed.”

    • No, we do not recommend using [sic]. Please see our replies of August 25, 2013, to Dara and July 7, 2014, to zar.

      • Nick says:

        And in this case, ignoring GrammarBook’s other good reasons for not doing it, the OP would be wrong, as they have clearly over-generalized the incorrect “rule” that “ize” words are “Americanisms” and thus necessarily wrong in “proper” (i.e. British or perhaps Commonwealth) English. I consider Oxford the authority on British English and their online entry for redirects to which says “organisation” is also acceptable, but Oxford’s position has always (?) been that there are very many correct “ize” words in British English. Yes, “analyze” is a US English usage and wrong in British English, and there are a few examples where “ise” is preferred to “ize”, but most are not.

        So, if you are going to sic it to “Americanisms”, you had darn well better know what you are talking about, and my experience suggests that most British English speakers/writers do not!

        (And no, I’m not an uppity Yank, but a Commonwealth English speaker who has been editor of a British English print journal.)

  39. Adrian says:

    How would you correct the following quote:
    “Photography has become so easy meaning that people don’t really think a photo has any intrinsic value.”
    I believe there is supposed to be a comma after ‘easy,’ but I’m unsure how I can correct it. Thank you.

    • From what little context you have provided, we would suggest replacing the word meaning with an ellipsis:
      “Photography has become so easy … that people don’t really think a photo has any intrinsic value.”

  40. C. Wells says:

    I’m writing a genealogy book and I’m using a lot of quotes, long and short, from the 17th and 18th centuries involving wills, property records, and other historical documents. I’m overwhelmed with the amount of misspelled words like in the following: “Said pattents may alsoe appeare together wth all ye Benifitts Rights priveledges…” Using [sic] in all these quotes seems intrusive. Is there anything wrong with just underlining the misspelled words?
    Thank you

    • We do not recommend underlining. If you think using [sic] is too intrusive, you might try an explanation in the preface or introduction of the book. Or you could just trust your readers’ intelligence and do nothing since these were not likely misspellings at the time they were written.

  41. Tessa says:

    If I am quoting a document directly, and I insert a well-placed [sic], is there anything I should state at the end of the quotation, to indicate that the [sic] was inserted by me and that it is not included in the original document? (along the same lines that one states, emphasis added, etc.)

    • Use of [sic] implies that it is not included in the original document. It is not necessary to add a note to the end of the quotation.

      • Nick says:

        A followup question, which may seem a bit weird…

        What if you are quoting some text with an embedded quote in it (where the point you are making is about the relevance or otherwise of the claim and the “supporting” quote) and the quote contains a “[sic]” that was presumably inserted by the author you are quoting?

        I know it seems rather contrived, but I faced this once and don’t recall now what I ended up doing…

        • That does sound unusual, but possible. We recommend writing the quote exactly as it was originally written. If you feel it is necessary to point out that [sic] is part of the original quote, you could add an explanation, e.g., (note to readers: the use of [sic] in this quote . . . ).

  42. ELizabeth says:

    Do you use [sic] if there is an error in a citation in MLA format?
    Thank you.

    • We’re having a hard time visualizing what you mean. Can you provide a specific example?

      • Frank Daasz says:

        I can give an example. Say you’re citing a source that is titled “Public Policy in Dertoit.” As in the title of the source misspells Detroit for whatever reason. Would your citation look like:

        Lastname, Firstname. “Public Policy in Dertoit[sic]”. …

        …or would you leave the [sic] out?

        I was wondering the same, because I used a dictionary site to define a word, and the title of the article is “policy.” No caps and a period at the end. I wanted to know if [sic] would be appropriate to let my professor know I didn’t just forget to capitalize “Policy.”

        • Using [sic] is appropriate after the word Dertoit; however, there should be a space before the bracket.

          Since nothing is incorrectly written in the “policy” title that you reference, using “[sic]” would not be appropriate. You may want to consider writing a parenthetical note to let readers know that you have cited the title as written.

  43. Robert Wells says:

    Should the square brackets around the italicised sic also be in italics?

  44. Sophie says:

    What if they are multiple errors in the quote like this one: “Hello im redy for my lessen today only i lossed the book we was using.”

    Are you supposed to put [sic] after each incorrect word? Thanks

  45. Shifra says:

    I am publishing a series of historical letters. My research has turned up some errors (such as a name being Jackson rather than Johnson). I would like to remain true to the original, but supply the correct name. What would be the proper form to do so?

    • You might include a preface that points out the inconsistencies and your treatment of them. Within the reproduced letter text, you could then follow any inaccuracies with the correct information in [brackets].

  46. Aljosa says:

    I am translating a quote from a newspaper, and the author misspells (Alois instead of Alvise) the name of a person. Should I use [sic] here as well or just correct the name, as it is a translation? Thanks!

    • If your readers are not likely to recognize that Alois is a misspelling, then rather than using “Alois [sic] …,” you may be better off indicating the correct spelling with a note such as, “Alois (note error in original: the correct name is Alvise) …” If this occurs numerous times in the material you are quoting, you may wish to place the note at the top of the quoted material.

      • Maria says:

        I am translating material that is largely in Spanish but contains a direct quote in English by the writer himself. The writer is a non-native speaker of English. The original quote contains a grammatical error that is not marked. Correcting the error would be wrong. Using a TN might be cumbersome, and simply adding [sic] after the error is wrong as well, since the author decided to leave the mistake there, unmarked. To make matters more complicated, it’s an old quote from testimonial/historical material (more precisely, a diary). I was thinking of either
        -adding [sic, TN] next to the mistake,
        -adding a TN as a footnote (although there are a few dealing with cultural differences and source-country institutions; I wouldn’t want to do that), or
        -asking the writer which way to go, although this entails several risks.

        What would anyone in my place do?

        • We’re unable to provide a definitive answer because, without context, we are unsure who is referenced as “the writer” and who is “the author,” and whether one or both are non-native speakers of English. From the information given, we are not seeing why the use of [sic] would be inappropriate. If you’d like, write back and include the applicable text. However, we are not experts in the art of translation and can’t guarantee that our next response will be any better than this one.

          If you cannot spare the time for further back and forth, we’ll just say that we are not aware of any rules or guidelines to apply to your situation. Since you are familiar with the writer, the work, and the audience, we recommend that you exercise author’s best judgment.

  47. Farah says:

    What if the person just didn’t enter a space between the two words? E.g. keepsits state from…Should I place a [sic] in this case?

  48. Aaron says:

    Ok… This helped but I need help with what to do when I purposely misspell a word(usually for desired comedic effect).
    Can anyone help?

  49. Nicolas Perrault says:

    The Wikipedia page on “sic” reads: “Some guides, including The Chicago Manual of Style, recommend ‘quiet copy-editing’ (unless where inappropriate or uncertain) instead of inserting a bracketed sic, such as by substituting in brackets the correct word in place of the incorrect word or by simply replacing an incorrect spelling with the correct one.”

    This is what I do, I substitute the error (or dated spelling) for the correct version and put that in brackets. I often feel as if using “[sic]” is arrogant, for it draws attention to the container, rather than to the content of the quotation. This especially unfair to those whose native language is not English. For instance, I quoted a Russian researcher last week, the work of whom I admire, but whose English is imperfect: Rather than using [sic] five times per sentence, which would undermine his credibility, I replace the incorrect words with the correct ones in brackets.

  50. Drubuu says:

    Is it possible to correctly use [sic] to identify added text that should not be included in a sentence? In my line of work, I often must quote legal text such as a municipal ordinance. Often times, between the City adopting the text, the City Clerk transcribing it to be signed by the Mayor and then uploading the adopted ordinance into an electronic online viewing service, typos and random words find their way into places where they do not belong. In some cases, the online display of the text may not match the actual adopted (legal) text, but may be the only publicly available (or even written) citation of the text. Either way, common practice is to quote the citation text whether it is accurate or not because it’s the only text that a layperson can access to verify accuracy.

    Example text: “If sidewalk is not shown on the adopted map and requires as set forth in section XX-DDS, developers have the option to contribute to the Sidewalk fund in-lieu of sidewalk construction.”

    The words “and requires” are either added text, (or) are a misspelled transcription of “as required”. In the event that the adopted text does not contain any words between “adopted map” and “as set forth” meaning the “and requires” language has been added in error; would it be appropriate to replace the words “and requires” with [sic] or invoke an [sic] in some other way to indicate that “and requires” should be ignored?

    Thank you so much for assisting me with this. This topic thread has been so informative to me!!

    • It is not always possible to specify exactly how to best use the “[sic]” tool. We would not think that replacing the words “and requires” with “[sic]” would be helpful because nobody would understand what is in error. You may just have to exercise your best judgment. Perhaps a legal style manual will contain useful guidance. You may also wish to consult our recent post Figuring Out the Trick Behind [sic].

  51. Jus' Checkin' says:

    To the definition/use writer and contributor
    Your first 4 sentences, with the main definition in the body-two sentences which are in exact opposition of each other; completely contradictory statements (I am ignoring the remarks on required punctuation). Can you explain?

    “Sic…something incorrectly written is intentionally being left as it was…in the original. Sic is…to indicate that it was not part of the original.” ?

  52. sarah says:

    I was wondering if I am quoting a person from a different country, should I use [sic] after grammatically incorrect phrases?

    Thank you

    • While commonly placed following a misspelled or wrongly used word in an original document or passage, we less often see [sic] used to indicate grammatically incorrect phrases. It’s a judgment call. If you think it will be apparent that you are quoting a non-native English speaker, and the meaning is sufficiently clear, we would not clutter multiple sentences or paragraphs with repeated usage of [sic].

  53. Candace Benoit says:

    I am quoting the following from an English book. It was written in a sarcastic tone and they used the incorrect words on purpose. Should i use [sic] after each one?

    1.Don’t use the wrong word two often, their’s nothing worse
    2.Don’t forget or misplace apostrophes
    3.Don’t use alot incorrectly, it is two words
    4.Don’t forget you have an audience in any formal writing
    5.Make sure your language is appropriate to your audience
    6.Cut unnecessary word
    7.Don’t be vague
    8.Avoid melodramatic punctuation!
    9.Pay attention to your sentence structure
    10.Don’t use you.

    • Since the words were intentionally misspelled, you might consider including a preface that points out this fact, instead of writing [sic] after every incorrect word.

  54. Emily says:

    How would you use [sic] if there are two consecutive words spelled incorrectly? For example, how would I use it with a sentence like “She is in he stoar” (Supposed to be “She is in the store”), would I write “She is in he [sic] stoar [sic]?” I have an assignment for school where I am quoting something with two misspellings in a row, but I am almost convinced they are misspelled for comedic effect, especially because the misspelling of “the” written “he” is actually something I have to quote in my essay. What should I do?

  55. Hamish Barrett says:

    Why use [sic] at all? We should use [thus] since is a native English word.

    • Who knows, you may be predicting the future. According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, [sic] has been in use in the English language since 1859, and is therefore the accepted standard. It’s an abbreviation for sic erat scriptum, which is Latin for “thus it had been written.”

  56. nelson says:

    Thank you very much, for I have a better understanding of the use of [sic] in reading professional journals, newspapers, and articles published. I will use this for my class discussions when it comes to reading lessons.

  57. Shara says:

    Is “sic” used only for grammatical and spelling errors, or for factual mistakes? I am transcribing a series of letters to be published. The letter’s author wrote: “He was the only person present.” It is known that this statement is not true. Do I indicate this with [sic]? Would it be correct to correct the mistake in a footnote? Would that be in addition to or instead of [sic]?

    • Writers use [sic] to indicate a misspelled or wrongly used word in an original document or passage. It would not be used to correct a factual mistake in a document as you describe. A factual inaccuracy would often be cited in a footnote or with an asterisk.

  58. PAUL JENKINS says:

    5. Don’t you think that every one [sic] should attend the meeting? (everyone)
    Every one is not technically incorrect, but “Don’t” is a contraction of “do not”. Are you saying it is correct to say “Do not you think…”
    There are many misused contractions that should be eliminated from our vocabulary.

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 5.104 (Verb Phrases) says, “An interrogative can be negated by placement of not after the subject {do you not want more?}, but a contraction is often more natural {don’t you want more?}. Most negative forms can be contracted {we do not–we don’t} {I will not–I won’t} {he has not–he hasn’t} {she does not–she doesn’t}, but I am not is contracted to I’m not (never I amn’t).” Therefore, we consider don’t an acceptable contraction for “do you not” in our answer.

  59. Henry says:

    Is it rude and condescending to sic every spelling error that someone makes when reply to them?

  60. Jerry says:

    Let’s say I want to quote a rule set forth in a regulation outside of its original context. But the rule as originally written wasn’t well written; and in order to use the rule in the desired context, I need to substitute a couple of terms using parentheses. To wit:

    The original rule appears as follows: “They shall have the exact same title as they appear in the IETM.”

    I want to use the rule to effect a similar style requirement outside the context of IETMs, so I wrote:

    “TOC listings ‘shall have the exact same title as (the headings) appear in the (text).’ ”

    Can you not simply place the [sic] at the end of the entire sentence, capturing all possible errors with one fell swoop?

    (And, if you do so, does the [sic] go inside or outside of the quotation marks?)

    I’d like to “sic” this puppy because of the clunky wording. (To me, “same title as they appear in the IETM” sounds grammatically wrong.) But, because I’ve substituted “the headings” and “text” for “they” and “IETM,” respectively, I’m not truly presenting the text as originally written. But, I am presenting the awkward grammar as it originally appears. So, can I use [sic] or not?

    • says:

      If you are quoting or using content with errors verbatum, tag each error with [sic]. If you are altering content to make it sound better, you should perhaps identify that another way, such as with an asterisk, parentheses, or a footnote. We would not [sic] an entire sentence at the end unless it was clear gibberish throughout. If the whole sentence was garble in quotations, we would probably place the [sic] after (outside) the end quotation marks.

  61. Beth Brawley says:

    I am writing an essay and using a quote that contains an archaic spelling of a common word. Would I use [sic] on this occasion?

    e.g. – “…as compleat distilleries of essential truths”
    or – “…as compleat [sic] distilleries of essential truths”

    • says:

      Yes, you would include [sic] to indicate that the non-standard spelling appeared in the quoted original text.

  62. Daryl Restly says:

    I have a question regarding the use of [sic]. Would it be appropriate to use it in an instance where someone is quoted and they make a factual error in their statement, rather than a grammatical error?

  63. Rori says:

    What happens when someone leaves out a period at the end of their sentence that you want to quote? Where do you place sic?

    • says:

      While commonly placed following a misspelled or wrongly used word in an original document or passage, [sic] is not generally used to indicate punctuation errors. We would recommend using it only if the punctuation error can or will confuse the reader.

  64. Tracey Bone says:

    I am marking academic papers in a post-secondary institution. One student consistently uses (sic.) (not italicized, but with a period after it within the enclosed bracket). He appears to be using it as a replacement for i.e. I can’t seem to find any formal explanation of the use of “sic” in this way. Is this correct use of the “word” in academic writing? Any direction you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

  65. John says:

    If the quoted material includes an extra space before a comma, do I need to use [sic] after the comma to indicate that the extra space is an error? Or can I delete the extra space in the quotation and not use [sic]?

    • says:

      While [sic] is commonly placed after a misspelled or wrongly used word in an original document or passage, we have never seen it used to indicate spacing errors. We would typically consider including [sic] in that context only if the spacing issue interfered with a correct interpretation of the quoted text.

  66. Anne Atkinson says:

    In an effort to preserve the hand-written, 120-year-old account of one man’s journey from Australia to Ireland and back again, I am endeavouring to transfer the original record into a typed copy for the interest of the writer’s descendants. The faded personal record is both fascinating and vivid but there are many spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes contained in it. How do I handle the very frequent errors (eg. the almost complete lack of full stops throughout) without losing the veracity and flow of the original document?

    • says:

      You might consider including a preface that acknowledges the errors instead of including [sic] after each one.

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