I recently read that the average person writes about 45 million words in their lifetime. For something that we get so much practice doing, why do we make so many mistakes?
When you spot a typo, or worse, someone else spots your typo, it can make you feel less than smart. However, the inability to spot your own mistakes is because you are too smart. Your brain is not only reading words, but it is also reading the intent. So, when you read something you have written, your brain is already a step ahead. It can be difficult to interrupt your brain's process enough for it to stop reading what you meant, and look at what you wrote.
So, how do you trick your brain so you can spot errors?
Here is a list of my five go-to proofreading tips:
- Walkaway- Give your brain some new scenery. Wait at least an hour before reviewing your writing again.
- Start at the end- Try reading it backward. It helps to trick your brain into reading more for content, not context.
- Storytime- Read it out loud. This will help you to slow down and hear the difference between what you wrote and what you meant to write.
- Online help- here are a variety of online tools that can help you proofread your writing. My favorite online tools are Grammarly and the Hemingway App. These free resources will help you with everything from misspelled words to readability.
- Ask a friend- Having someone else look it over is one of the best ways to proofread your work. They can help you to spot errors and give you feedback on whether they understand your message.
By taking the time to proofread, you can save yourself from an embarrassing situation.
Fort Hays State University