10 Tips to Banish Typos

It's human to make mistakes, but these computer and printing tricks can help you catch your typos. 

Mignon Fogarty
4-minute read
Episode #299

8. Read your work backward, starting with the last sentence and working your way in reverse order to the beginning. Supposedly, this works better than reading through from the beginning because your brain knows what you meant to write, so you tend to skip over spelling mistakes when you’re reading forward.

Philip Corbet recently reviewed some of his favorite proofreading tips in his New York Times column “After Deadline,’ and I picked up a couple of new ideas there.

9. Separate proofreading tasks. Read the article through once to just check the spelling, and then read it through again to just check the punctuation. By separating tasks, you’ll be able to focus better on each one.

(He also showed an example of a sentence that looked like a revision gone awry--as though the writer had rewritten the sentence but forgotten to remove remnants of the earlier version--and that really struck a chord with me. Almost every time I post a terrible typo to Twitter or Facebook, it’s because I was repeatedly editing the post to make it shorter and didn’t see that something got left in from an earlier version. So the advice is to be especially careful when you’re revising things at the last second.)

10. Print your work in a different font with different margins. Bryan Garner, the author of Garner’s Modern American Usage, posted this tip to his Twitter feed: “When you're sick of editing your own work, you should print it in a different font with different margins. It works!” I’m going to try that one on my next book.

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VIDEO: “The The Impotence of Proofreading” by Taylor Mali

10 tips to banish typos


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.