Whether you’re a professional proofreader, an eager job applicant, or an employee sending daily intracompany emails, it’s your cruelest enemy: the typo. The worst types of typos aren’t even the once-in-a-lifetime embarrassing ones, such as “Whenever I have a moment to shit down and think, I know it’s love,” but those everyday ones, like writing “like” twice or forgetting an “an.”
All of us have caught one of those little tricksters after hitting send, then, unless you count yourself among the most self-actualized Zen masters, agonized for minutes or even hours, thinking, “Why, why didn’t I just proofread that email/paper/Facebook comment/Tweet/Pin one more time?”
If it makes you feel any better, there’s an actual phenomenon that causes us to miss typos. It’s called generalization. As described in Wired:
We can become blind to details because our brain is operating on instinct. By the time you proof read your own work, your brain already knows the destination.
So, now that we’ve established that we all make typos, how do we catch them before it’s too late?
When you’re proof reading, you are trying to trick your brain into pretending that it’s reading the thing for the first time. … if you want to catch your own errors, you should try to make your work as unfamiliar as possible.
Don’t worry: I’ve got some tricks up my keyboard I plan on sharing with you. (To be cont.)