The Essential Errata

An errata or corrigendum is a corrections list, a paper or web page noting and correcting errors in a publication, typically a large academic work. The errata fills the gap between the next edition of a book, when any errors are formally corrected. You’ll often find an errata slipped into the back of a work, a page or two inserted before the title leaves the printer.

A great example of an online errata is that for the Jepson Manual (external link). This serves as the update page for the Manual,  a 1,600 page hardcopy tome. Erratas note mistakes and keep people current on new findings in a field which change the publication. It’s no shame to have an errata as no thousand page book is perfect, anymore than the humans who write and review them.

My geology textbook, though, all 836 pages of it, does not seem to have an errata sheet. A little discouraging for a $170 text. In one chapter alone I discovered five errors or oddities, blemishes that carried over to the online materials supporting the work. The book is Dynamic Earth: An Introduction to Physical Geology by Christiansen and Hamblin (2015).

The publisher remains silent on this despite my e-mails. Although I am enjoying the course, I am now worried over what is correct and what is not. 99% of the book must be accurate, I just can’t tell. Unless I have an errata sheet.

We all make mistakes, it’s how we handle those mistakes that counts. Right now, I am counting the moments until I get an errata, as I go further and further into the book. As I struggle with new words and new ideas, I hope I am on the right side of all of them.

Update: The author e-mailed me to say no errata sheet exists but that I seem to be compiling one. Thanks for the sarcasam, Professor. I was only looking out for my grade and in a small way trying to help. I thought better of BYU before this course. Maybe their mostly Mormon students don’t correct their professors or help out with the text. Whatever.

Update: I eventually dropped the class since I found it impossible to effectively complete labs outside of the traditional setting in which students, TAs, and professors meet face to face. And the book continued to be a minefield of mistakes.

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
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