JS Tip 484: Using [Sic]
From the Writing Workshops: Using [Sic]
When you’re quoting from another document, and there’s an error in the other document, how might you indicate to your reader that the error is in the original and not yours?
The Latin word sic (usually in italics because it’s a foreign word) means “thus” or “so” or “in this manner.” Or, as Bart Simpson would say, “It wasn’t me. I didn’t break it. It was broken before I got here.”
Let’s suppose you reference a report. The report includes a misspelling:
- Earnings in the first quarter surpast earnings for the previous two quarters.
Wait a minute.
No. You know that’s wrong. But you can’t—with integrity—change the original.
Use the Latin sic (“It was broken before I got here”). In italics. In brackets:
- The report stated, “Earnings in the first quarter surpast [sic] earnings for the previous two quarters.”
Some writers use the memory hook that sic can stand for “seen in context,” or, in other words, “It was this way in the original” (or “It was broken before I got here”).
The brackets and the sic (in italics) show that you know what you’re doing, that you know there’s an error in the original.
How’s that? What do you think?
If you have questions, let us know. We love this stuff.