If you read much, you’ve probably seen your share of typos. No writer is immune – even the best of the best have a few typos here and there (which always makes me feel just a little bit better…).
But the best way I’ve found to find those irksome errors, is simply to read my piece aloud. It doesn’t matter if it’s a carefully crafted email, or the next chapter in my novel: reading aloud makes a huge difference in the quality of your writing.
Our minds are powerful in and of themselves and do a lot of the work for us while we read. Part of that work includes skipping over obvious errors it recognizes should be something else, extra spaces, awkward phrasing, etc.
For example, if I write the sentence ‘she meant to throw is away’ it’s more than likely while reading, my brain will simply skim over ‘is’ realizing it is supposed to be ‘it.’ Also adding words – our brains will skip right over them much of the time.
Just this week I sent out a piece to five proofreaders and not one of them found the extra word (it) inserted in a sentence I found when I read aloud.
Another great example is transposing letters or words. Studies have shown that as long as all the letters are there and the word starts and ends with the correct letters, the brain does the rest of the work.
For example, what word am I trying to spell out: lugah.
If you guessed ‘laugh’ you’re right!
Our brains are great at getting things in context and putting pieces together subconsciously.
Now, we can avoid all these errors that can decrease our professionalism simply by reading aloud. Why? Because when we read aloud, we slow down. Our eyes have to take in each word, space, sentence to make sense of the whole and to create a natural cadence to reading. If something we wrote is awkward or doesn’t make sense, or is out of place while we are verbally reading, it is much easier to identify it when we naturally trip up. That’s when and where we can make corrections.
It’s not a fix-all, but it sure helps and makes you look a lot better before sending it off to a proofreader or editor!