Weird, right? So how is it we can read the above paragraph? According to a researcher at Cambridge University,
… it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place.
The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.
Huh. Well, that makes proofreading our writing really problematic, doesn’t it? Particularly because, “… Our own typos are hard to spot because we know what we meant to write, and so this gets in the way of seeing what we actually did write.”
OK, so we need to figure out how to trick our brains into catching typos, not missing them. But how?
Here are a few easy techniques:
1.) Read your writing two to three times, letting it sit between reads. Then you’re reading with “fresh eyes.” If possible, put a night’s sleep between you and your project/paper/blog/social media post/marketing copy/email.
2.) Read your super-important projects forward and backward. I can’t emphasize this enough. Albeit it doesn’t work for long-form content unless you have five hours to spare, but it does wonders for short emails, social media posts, marketing copy, titles, subject lines, and the like.
3.) Get an actual fresh set of eyes to read your writing–a friend, a colleague, or a family member. And not to push my own services, but another option is to hire a professional. You know, someone like me who spends 40 hours a week catching writing errors. Just sayin’.