Business Writing Tip #49—Ensure your work is ‘typo-free’

It’s easy to make a mistake when you’re typing. Our fingers often struggle to keep up with our brains and, in their rush, miss out words or type the wrong words. Some of the typos can be quite funny. But in business writing, being funny is not your aim.

Business writing errors can be embarrassing and they can be expensive. A typing error in a contract could mean a lost lawsuit.

A country pumpkin!

A country pumpkin!

Here are a few tips to help you make sure your writing is ‘typo-free’.

  1. Ask someone else to read it and check it. Fresh eyes will often catch errors.
  2. If you know that you regularly mistype certain letter combinations or words, use your word processing software’s auto-correct feature. It will fix the error for you.
  3. Check your copy on a printed version rather than on the screen. It is often easier to see an error on a page than on a screen.
  4. Make sure you have time to put your writing aside for a couple of hours before you have to submit it. This helps you to look at it with a clear mind and focus on what you have actually written, rather than what you think you have written.
  5. Read it aloud. When you read aloud you have to read every word. And when you read every word you are more likely to be able to see any mistakes you might have made. Look at each word, maybe even using a pen or pencil to point to them as you read.
  6. Focus on one proofreading task at a time. Read the work through once for spelling. Read it again thinking about the punctuation. Read it again focusing on the grammar.
  7. Remember to check that your spelling is consistent. If you are using UK spelling, use it throughout. If you’ve chosen to go with US spelling, remember to go with it all the way. There’s no excuse for ‘centre’ on one page and ‘center’ on another.
  8. Watch out for homonyms. There are so many words that sound the same in English, but look different. Did you mean to type ‘there’, or should it be ‘their’? What about ‘four’ and ‘for’?
  9. Watch out for added, substituted and missed letters. Have you typed ‘your’ instead of ‘you’, ‘tin’ instead of ‘tint’? Your spellchecker won’t recognise that these are wrong. A friend of mine once referred to a ‘country pumpkin’ in a university history essay…

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