How to Use “Not My Mistake Indicator” in Your Writing

Have you ever come across a word or phrase in a quotation that seems to be spelled or used incorrectly? Maybe you are quoting someone who made a grammatical error, or used a slang term, or had a different dialect or accent. How do you indicate that the mistake is not yours, but the original speaker’s or writer’s?

One way to do this is to use the Latin word “sic”, which means “thus” or “so”. It is usually written in brackets after the word or phrase that contains the error, to show that you are reproducing it exactly as it was said or written. For example:

  • He said he was “very greatful [sic] for the opportunity”.
  • She wrote in her diary, “I can’t beleive [sic] he did that to me”.
  • He called her a “beutiful [sic] lady”.

Using “sic” can help you avoid confusion or misunderstanding when you are quoting someone else’s words. It can also show that you are aware of the rules of spelling and grammar, and that you are not making the mistake yourself.

However, using “sic” can also have some drawbacks. It can sometimes seem rude or sarcastic, as if you are mocking or correcting the person you are quoting. It can also interrupt the flow of your writing, and make it look cluttered or messy. Therefore, you should use “sic” sparingly and carefully, and only when it is necessary to avoid confusion or misrepresentation.

Alternatives to “Not My Mistake Indicator”

If you want to avoid using “sic” in your writing, there are some alternatives you can consider. Here are some of them:

  • Paraphrase or summarize the quotation instead of using the exact words. This way, you can avoid reproducing the error, and also make the quotation fit better with your own style and tone. For example, instead of quoting someone who said “I seen [sic] him yesterday”, you can paraphrase it as “He said he saw him yesterday”.
  • Use ellipses (…) to omit the part of the quotation that contains the error, and replace it with your own words in brackets. This can help you clarify the meaning of the quotation, and also avoid drawing attention to the error. For example, instead of quoting someone who said “She is a good cooker [sic]”, you can write “She is good at [cooking]”.
  • Use square brackets to insert the correct word or phrase after the error, and indicate that it is your own addition. This can help you correct the error, and also show respect to the original speaker or writer. For example, instead of quoting someone who said “He don’t [sic] care about me”, you can write “He don’t [doesn’t] care about me”.
  • Use a footnote or an endnote to explain the error, and provide the source of the quotation. This can help you provide more information and context about the quotation, and also avoid interrupting the main text. For example, instead of quoting someone who said “I am a pacifist, I don’t like violins [sic]”, you can write “I am a pacifist, I don’t like violins” and add a footnote that says “The speaker meant to say ‘violence’, not ‘violins’. Source: Interview with John Smith, 2023”.


Using “not my mistake indicator” in your writing can be a useful way to show that you are quoting someone else’s words accurately, and that you are not responsible for any errors or mistakes. However, you should also be careful not to overuse it, or to use it in a way that might offend or insult the person you are quoting. You should also consider using some of the alternatives mentioned above, depending on the purpose and context of your writing. By doing so, you can improve the quality and clarity of your writing, and also show respect and professionalism to your sources and readers.