Typoglycemia (a portmanteau of "typo" and "hypoglycemia") is a neologism for a purported discovery about the cognitive processes involved in reading text. The principle is that readers can comprehend text despite spelling errors and misplaced letters in the words. It is an urban legend and Internet meme that only appears to be correct.
The following example of typoglycemic text was circulated on the Internet in September 2003:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.[a]
Although the passage is littered with errors, it is still relatively easy to make out the words. However, the example doesn't distort shorter words, and the assertion that only lateral letters matter is untrue.
No such research was carried out at the University of Cambridge. These emails may have been inspired by a letter from Graham Rawlinson of the University of Nottingham to New Scientist in 1999 in which he discusses his 1976 Ph.D. thesis, or perhaps by the research of Thomas R. Jordan's group on the relative influences of the exterior and interior letters of words.
- Unscrambled: "According to a reschearch [sic] at Cambridge University, it doesn't matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only importent [sic] thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole."
- Davis, Matt (2012). "Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae..." MRC: Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. Cambridge University. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
- "user behavior - "Typocaptcha" - an alternative to CAPTCHA?". User Experience Stack Exchange. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
- Rawlinson, Graham (29 May 1999). "Reibadailty". New Scientist (2188). Retrieved 4 July 2016.
- Rawlinson, G (1976). The Significance of Letter Position in Word Recognition (Ph.D.). Nottingham, UK (unpublished): University of Nottingham. Cited in Davis 2012,
- Massaro, Dominic; Jesse, Alexandra (17 March 2005). "The Magic of Reading: Too Many Influences for Quick and Easy Explanations". In Trabasso, Thomas R.; Sabatini, John P.; Massaro, Dominic W.; Calfee, Robert (eds.). From Orthography to Pedagogy: Essays in Honor of Richard L. Venezky. p. 42. ISBN 978-0805850895.
- Rawlinson, Graham (2012). Davis, Matt (ed.). "The Significance of Letter Position in Word Recognition [...] A Summary". MRC - Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit - People. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
- Abstract of Graham Rawlinson's Thesis in Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE, Jan 2007
- Jordan, T.R. (1990). Presenting words without interior letters: Superiority over single letters and influence of postmask boundaries. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 16, 893-909.
- Mandell, Judy (2017). "Chunking: The Brain’s Shortcut to Understanding and Recalling Information," March 2017, Observer.com.
- Online typoglycemia generator.