The Writer’s Toolkit: Proofreading – How to Slow Your Brain’s Auto-correct

Congratulations you’ve finished your manuscript and are neck deep in the revision trenches! By now, you are very familiar with your story and it looks great to you, but don’t fall for this trap. No matter how great you are at grammar and spelling, proofreading your own work can still leave you with glaring typos.

Welcome to your brain on auto-correct. It happens whether we read silently to ourselves or out loud. We skip over misspelled words and sometimes even skip words altogether! Scientists believe this happens because our brains don’t read words one letter at a time or sentences one word at a time. They read entire words and phrases and they read them fast. Spell and grammar checks help, but it still doesn’t catch everything.

So can a writer to do to avoid this? Change it up. Slow your auto-correct by using these suggestions.

Change your font. The simple task of changing the font can have the words seem new to your eyes. My advice is to select a font that’s NOT pleasing to you. Try several different fonts until you find one that you hate, but still readable. It may be hardly noticeable, but this simple trick will slow your reading.

 

Look at the words in bold. Bold text is harder on the eye and often gives the impression letters are closer together. While bold is good, close letters are not, so choose a bold font that doesn’t make the letters appear close. Choose boldly, but choose wisely.

Increase the size of your font. Just as thicker letters slow your reading, bigger can do the same. Within reason, find a font that makes your eyes travel farther across the page and those hidden typos will jump out at you. Unlike what your teacher told you about the 16 pt. font you may have used on your book report in high school, larger fonts can be a good thing. 

As you sit down to proof your wonderful manuscript, make sure to change it up. Take that masterpiece in it’s 12 pt. Times New Roman normalcy and make it 20 pt. Papyrus boldness. Heck, make it green while you’re at it. These tricks can help you shut off your self auto-correct and focus on the actual words.

Happy writing!


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