Mistakes – Wear They Hide

Posted by on Oct 29, 2013 in Business Writing | 0 comments

So this is going to be a brief follow up to “Miskates – Why Their So Easy to Make.” This blog is going to feature some places to focus on when you’re proofreading your own work. These are places I tend to find mistakes a lot in my own work and catch (uh, most of the time).

Note: The great thing about this particular blog is that I have complete and total freedom to screw up practically everything! Yeah, yeah, see, I put that obvious brain fart in there to show all the readers how easy it is to miss something. I DID IT ALL ON PURPOSE!

Places to be extra weary of

1) Titles and headlines. These are the easiest places to miss. Why? Because you typically don’t read them again. We’re so concerned with what’s in the body of the text that we type the title or headline once and scan right over it on every subsequent read through. Unfortunately, it’s the very first thing that your reader is going to see and thus the most important line in the entire piece. Something misspelled our left out in the headline nearly guarantees that the rest of the information won’t be taken seriously– if the reader even continues at all.

2) The little red line: For instance, with a simple extra “e” in the title above, I accidentally (ON PURPOSE!) turned “wary” into “weary.” And since “weary” rhymes with “leery,” another word that could’ve easily made sense in that space, a lot of tired brains will let it slide. Most writers type so fast that we’ll often hit the wrong letters at the wrong time. Thank god for that little red squggly line that pops up to let us know we wrote “ginosaur” instead of “dinosaur.” But what about when you write “sing” instead of “sign?” No little read line. (Or little red line) Instead of signing off on the budget, you end up singing off on the budget, which is always unfair because Michelle in marketing has been working on a killer rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” since high school. The little red line is like that one friend you had in college who doesn’t mind chipping in for pizza or beer but mysteriously disappears when it comes time to help you move your couch. (For no reason at all, I’m going to refer to the red squiggly line as Darren) So just remember. You can only rely on Darren some of the time. Not all of the time.

3) Spots where you edited. Any sentence you’ve changed forty times needs a serious look. In the process of adding and deleting, we tend to omit words or accidentally leave in half a phrase that was in the original version of the sentence but is no longer needed. For example, the previous sentence can easily come out, “In the process of adding and deleting, writers can we tend to accidentally omit words or leave in half a phrase that was originally in the sentence that no longer needed.” With a quick skim, that sentence can easily look correct even though it’s as mangled as an arthritic old ginosaur.

So use these tips to target, identify, and destroy common mistakes. And if that doesn’t work, figure out a forum where you can pretend that all the things you screwed up was were done on purpose as a teaching tool.

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