How to avoid typos when writing articles quickly

Screenshot from Linux software KTouch. An imag...
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For a number of reasons authors may choose to write a number of articles quickly, yet this runs the risk of excessive typos. If you’re a bit obsessive-compulsive, you’ll find the experience frustrating. Of course, spell-check is the obvious answer, but spell-check does not pick up many misspelled words.


Here are 7 tips to better spelling and fewer typos:

1. Improve your own spelling skills. If you think this is hopeless, then make a list of words you misspell frequently, and keep them in a handy notebook or computer file. Is it embarassing or embarrassing? Or embarrasing? Put the correct spelling on a list for quick reference. You may want to buy a spelling reference as well, and refresh your memory regarding basic spelling skills. (Remember “i after e, except after c, or when sounded as a, as in neighbor or weigh”?)

2. Type your articles in a word processor then paste to the internet. Your word processor can be set to correct your spelling as you go, or alert you to questionable spellings. Seeing your words in a different font with different spacings helps as well, so your eye doesn’t skip past familiar phrases or words.

3. Be aware of common words used incorrectly. As you’re composing in your mind, words that sound the same may end up being typed incorrectly, and spell-check will miss this. Pay close attention to their and they’re, your and you’re, you and your, your and yours, right and write, bare and bear, peak and peek, brake and break.

4. Don’t submit your articles immediately. Before submitting an article, write another perhaps, then go back later and re-read the first, when you’re not so close to the material you’ve written. Your eye is much more likely to catch an obvious error. Re-read your articles at least twice, preferably in different settings. Also, watch out for duplicate letters such as i and l – they’re hard to see, therefore easily missed. I just had to correct ‘settiings’ myself.

5. Take a break periodically. The mind becomes numb to errors when you write too long. You may be able to compose more efficiently if you take a 5-10 minute break between articles.

6. Improve your typing skills. Touch-typing is surely the fastest way to compose, and may be learned with conscientious effort. In as little as a few months you can improve from 20 wpm (words per minute) to at least 50. Make yourself type correctly. Slower practice with fewer errors will eventually lead to faster, accurate typing. Sloppy typing will lead to sloppy spelling.

7. Write about what you know. If you’re always having to look things up, more errors will creep in. Don’t use words you aren’t sure of – this will inevitably slow you down and lead to mistakes.

Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro, circa Q4 1999.
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The above is what I do to write articles quickly. If I don’t have to research what I’m writing, a 400 word article may be completed in 30-40 minutes. That’s only 10-15 words per minute, allowing a little time to think between words. I type in spurts, finishing one thought, then pausing until the next is formed in my mind. I try to have at least an entire phrase in my mind before I begin typing a sentence, so I don’t have to go back and correct words. It also allows more flexibility to change your mind without having to go back and correct something. 

Copyright 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, M.D.

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