Do you ever find yourself misspelling the same word over and over? Or you always mix up the same two words as you type? This is a common problem amongst all writers (and non-writers). Everyone has their own set of words they mistype when they’re going fast, their mind is elsewhere, or they can never remember how to spell a specific word. I call these consistent misspellings
For example, I always switch the “r” and “o” in “from” when I’m typing. Almost every time. This mistake isn’t caught by Spell Check in Word or any spell checker program because the mistake spells the word “form.” According to the word processor, I spelled “form” correctly even though it’s the incorrect word.
Everyone has their own mistakes, and retraining your fingers to type your consistent misspelling correctly isn’t always possible or takes a long time. Rather than retrain myself (which I’ve tried and I still make the mistake often), I’ve simply learned to edit all instances of “from” and “form” in my writing. This step usually only takes a minute, sometimes less if I’m writing a blog post. If I’m working on a full manuscript, I’ll spend 5-10 minutes evaluating every case of the two words just in case.
How to Catch and Fix Consistent Misspellings
So what do you with your own consistent misspellings?
Write them down and fix it later.
Start writing down the words you mistype and misspell as you go. Put it in a notebook, a separate word document, or post it note. Make sure you compile all your common mistakes. Every time you notice you’ve mistyped or misspelled a word again, make note of it. This reference will come in handy.
Personally, I write mine down on the Sticky Note software installed on my computer. This lets me pull it up easily when working across different platforms. I also keep a copy of the list in my personal editing checklist.
Once you’ve compiled a list of your consistent misspellings, use your word processor’s navigation tool to find each instance of the misspelling after you finish writing. I like to use Find and Replace when it’s available.
Find and Replace is a valuable tool in Microsoft Word and Google Docs. It allows you to mass edit your document or find all instances of a specific word or phrase, which I do for “from” and “form.” You can find and fix your habitual mistypings in one go.
As you compile this list and use it to correct your documents and manuscripts, you’re starting your very own checklist. If you’ve already created an editing checklist, add your consistent misspellings to it. This checklist will be essential every time you copyedit and clean up your work.
Taking note of your typing mistakes and fixing them is a great way to improve your writing and editing. As you discover your own consistent misspellings and mistakes, you’ll be able to grow and fix those errors yourself. This way you won’t have to rely on someone else, such as an editor or beta reader, for each typo.
When You’re Editing Someone Else’s Work
If you’re editing someone else’s work, you can still create a consistent misspelling list. I always do this so I can correct the misspellings all at once. As soon as I notice that an author has misspelled a word 2-3 times, I write it down and then use Find and Replace to find all future instances of that word. I’ll also look for other misspelling variations just in case. That way I don’t have to fix the misspellings as I read through the rest of the document. You can and should do something similar, whether you edit the misspellings immediately or at the end of the editing process.
Find more editing tips at BDR’s editing resources page.