How to Prevent Typos

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We all hate them.  Sometimes, it seems we just can’t get rid of them.  We proofread and proofread, but there they are, like dandelions popping up in your lawn.

I heard a story once about a publisher who swore they would print a book with no errors.  There was a mistake in Chapter 6.

However, there are some ways you can minimize the damage.

First, spell check.  This is far from perfect, since Word can’t detect usage errors (such as right instead of write).  But, it’s a good first step.

Second, step away from your computer.  Let whatever you wrote sit for a bit before you hit “publish.”

Third, ask someone else to look it over (if you have time).  Fresh eyes will see things your tired eyes missed.

Fourth, read it out loud.  Saying each word focuses your brain.

Fifth, read it backwards.

All that said, I just read a book printed by a major publisher.  There was a big typo in one of the chapter headings.  It said, “DIMJLY LIT ROOM.”

The good news is that online, typos are much easier to fix!  And, sometimes, typos can be good.

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2 thoughts on “How to Prevent Typos

  1. Jodi, as a person who has edited a lot of book-length documents, all I can say is “Why did I ever agree to edit a book-length document?” As you say, proofing and proofing doesn’t ever seem to get every typo, whether it’s a “your” that’s supposed to be a “you’re” or wordsstucktogether or a comma ending a sentence rather than a period. I will say that it’s much easier to proofread a printed document than one on screen.

    Sometimes the large display type, or the subheads, big and bold, are the place where errors lie. One of my classic proofing “should I shoot myself”—I was the copyeditor for a large software company. The 800 number for ordering the software was on ALL of our documents—maybe I saw it 300,000 times. We sent a catalog out to the whole mailing list, well over 100,000 names, and the order page in the catalog’s center, to which it opened, had a HUGE rendering of the 800 number. Only it was rendered with the numbers wrong. Tommy missed it. One of the VPs wanted my head, but my boss finally talked him out of it. Errors hiding in plain sight…

    • Oh, Tom that’s bad. I have an example that’s even worse. A friend’s company sent out a large mailing, also featuring an 800 number for orders. Turned out the number they printed (for their high-end, expensive company research – think something like The Economist or The Conference Board), was a porno line.