January 9, 2017

Mistakes can lurk in your writing, whether it’s a story, article, blurb, e-book, caption, tweet, menu, flier, Facebook status, blog post, script, advertisement, graphic novel, comic, brochure, editorial, email, manifesto, letter, birthday card, bumper sticker, wedding invitation, classified ad or graffiti.

One cause of errors: You tend to read (or edit) with your memory rather than to actively read what’s on the screen. Your brain fills in the gaps in the writing and doesn’t notice typos, duplicated words or mistakes you’ve introduced while you were revising your work.

One solution: Trick your brain into thinking it is seeing something new. Here are some ways to help you slow down and look at the work with fresh eyes.

Read the material aloud–to yourself, your colleague, even your cat. Reading out loud forces you to say (and hear) each word. You’ll see whether you wrote “if” rather than “is” or “of.”  Or that you typed the word “and” twice in a row.

Check the first sentence. The beginning of a story gets a lot of attention. By the time you’re done, your brain knows what you meant to say, but your eyes may have skipped over what you actually wrote. Read it one more time.

And check the last paragraph. In a hurry to be done with your work and move on? Slow down and make sure you haven’t made mistakes in your haste to finish.

Change your environment. Move to a different chair or room. Stuck at your desk? Change your posture.

Change the type size, margins, fonts or colors. All of these send signals to your brain that this is something or different.

Taken from 9 Ways You Drive Readers Away (And 9 Tips to Keep Them Reading), a webinar replay with Merrill Perlman at Poynter NewsU.

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Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current…
Vicki Krueger

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