Thursday, May 31, 2012

Common typos that spell check may miss

Now you are getting down to the wire.  Your proposal for the June deadline is almost finished, and you have followed my advice on timing so you are at the point of proofreading.  Right?  Or it is midnight the night before your proposal is due and you are frantically reading this as you try to finish cutting your 14 pages down to 12.  Either way, this information will be helpful. 

Many typos occur as we type words we use often in place of the words we actually are trying to use.  In fact, some of our colleagues study exactly what goes into making a typo, and attempt to study commonalities in misspellings and typing mistakes.  (For a very interesting example involving typos and misplaced patient files, read this.)  So, if your brain is wired to be prone to errors in spelling and typing, what are you supposed to do?  Unfortunately, apple has not yet invented an app for smart editing that will replace words with the words you meant to use.  Instead, you need to do some good old-fashioned proof reading and read your document word for word.  It is also critical to have another person read the document, as they may be able to catch  mistakes that you have missed after staring at the text for hours.  Some of these may be mistakes that you have made.  Others may be incorrect corrections made to your misspellings by spell checking tools.

Some common substitutions to look for include:
  • off - of
  • now - know
  • read - red
  • led - lead
  • sign - sing
  • month - moth
  • manger - manager
  • own - won
  • assess - asses
  • aspire - inspire
  • many - manly
  • assay - any
  • cellular - cellulose
  • calendar - colander
  • an - and
  • from - form
The possibilities are endless.  These are only the most common that I have seen in my review of proposals.  While some typos can be forgiven by reviewers, you don't want an embarassing typo to overshadow your great work.  As you write, make sure to leave time for this crucial proofreading before you make your final submission.  You don't want to be the poor soul who substitutes circumcised for circumscribed.

1 comment:

  1. I keep writing info instead of into and my spell checker doesn't catch that either.