8 Tips for Catching Typos Before You Click Send

Last Updated Feb 13, 2011 8:49 PM EST

If you've ever noticed a typo in a blog post, you've unwittingly peered behind the curtain and learned the single biggest difference between blogging and writing for a traditional print publication: When you blog, no editor corrects your typos for you. Words go straight from the writer's brain to your eyes via a computer keyboard.

And that's a lot like your own business writing; there's no friendly editor down the hall ready to review and edit your work. Since neither of us have an editor handy to proof our work, I thought I'd round up some tips and best practices for eradicating errors before you share your writing with employees, clients, partners, and other folks whom you would rather not share typos with.
  • Love your keyboard or replace it. Keyboards might all look more or less the same, but there's a huge variety among them -- short and low throw keys, ergonomic and linear key arrangements -- that can dramatically affect your typing quality. Which one is best? It depends on you. If you can, try a few out so you know what works best.
  • Always use spell checking. You get it automatically with Word and Outlook, but if you're writing into a Web browser -- like when Web mail messages -- you should use an add-in that spell checks.
  • Unless you're on your phone. The iPhone is particularly infamous for changing what you intend to say into hilarious gibberish. It's all the more dangerous because you're less likely to proofread what you write on your phone.
  • Add words that you commonly type wrong to your AutoCorrect dictionary -- especially if the typo is a real word you would ordinarily never use. For some reason, I frequently type prince when I mean to type price. Spell check will never flag prince, so those errors used to slip through. When I realized that I virtually never need to type prince, I set Word to AutoCorrect the term for me automatically.
  • Disable the Caps Lock key to eliminate accidentally hitting it and getting a long string of words in the wrong case.
  • If it's important, set it aside and review it later. If you proof something immediately after you write it, you end up seeing what you intend the document to say, not what you actually wrote.
  • To trick your brain into proofreading more carefully, change the formatting of your document. In Word, for example, you can temporarily change the page to two or three columns.
  • When you proofread, read it aloud. When you speak, you're forced to read more thoroughly, which causes you to stumble on typos in a way that wouldn't happen if you were just scanning the text with your eyes.
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