Have you ever had a colleague proofread your work? It’s remarkable what a fresh set of eyes can catch—all those typos you may have missed, despite having read it over and over again.
But what if you don’t have a colleague available to proofread your work?
Taking a break and reading your work again later may help you spot errors. But what if you don’t have time?
Not to worry. I’ll show you three ways to catch typos in your own work—and quickly! Depending on how much time you have, you can apply one technique or try them all.
1. Read it backwards.
For this technique, you’ll start reading the last word in your document and work your way to the top.
When you read backwards, your brain has to focus more on each word, since they’re no longer in context. By reading the sentences out of order and context, you’re likely to notice typos, grammar issues, and sentence fragments.
2. Read it in a different format.
Since we all learned to read on print material, it comes more naturally for us to catch errors on paper than on a screen.
So if you have access to a printer, I highly recommend printing out your work and reading it as a hard copy. I can’t remember a time when I’ve printed out a document and didn’t find an error.
But if you don’t have a printer, that’s ok. Even just changing your on-screen setting can be an effective way to make typos jump out. Just copy and paste your work into a different program. For example, if you’ve used a Google Document, copy and paste your work into a Microsoft Word document. I’ve even copied and pasted my work into emails and Facebook messages and then sent them to myself.
3. Read it out loud.
The last technique is to read your work out loud.
When we read silently, we tend to skip over typos because we know what we meant to say and the human brain is programmed to fill in gaps. But when we read out loud, typos and other errors that we weren’t expecting to find, like run-on sentences and awkward wording, come alive.
Try these tricks out and see which one works for you. You may find that one is more effective than the other. Either way, now you’re ready to catch those typos!