We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Hit Send or Post and then sat back to bask in the glow of a task well done. Thinking to revel in our bon mots and elegant phrasing one more time, we open up the file again and - Wham! The spelling mistake hits us between the eyes.
Why couldn’t we see it before?
Typographical errors - types of typos
There are two main types of errors in written work. The first are straight typing errors where letters get transposed or omitted and words are repeated. The second are grammatical or style errors where the wrong word is used, an infinitive split or apostrophe put in the wrong place. Obviously if you only have a shaky grasp of grammar then spotting the incorrect use of it’s instead of its will be tricky. That’s when a friend, editor or proofreader comes in or reading a good guide to grammar.
Can’t see the wood for the trees?
Trying to proofread your own writing is very difficult. In the same way that you can drive to work and then not remember crossing a particular roundabout, your brain generalises about details and concentrates on higher functions such as writing rather than reading. When you proofread your own work, your brain already knows your intention and the words you meant to write so will skip over the pesky details like the exact spelling. The best way to assist you in proofreading is to change the format of what you are reading, to make it less familiar to the brain. That way, the brain slows down and reads more carefully.
So here are my suggestions to make your work less familiar and catch more of those irritating errors.
And please send me any amusing typo examples you find!
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