Grammar Girl’s tips for effective proofreading

Four keys to avoiding typos for meticulous editors.

From ‘Grammar Girl,’ some essentials for meticulous editors

Editor’s note: Mignon Fogarty is the host of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

Before I get to the proofreading tips, I have to confess that I feel like a fraud, because I make as many errors as everyone else, and sometimes typos slip through. I try so hard, but typos seem to evade me with impunity. As my father would say, “If you miss one typo, all the others will know,” implying that I will forever be an easy mark for sneaky, calculating typos that are out to get me.

So, given my long history with typos, it has become my belief that it’s nearly impossible for someone to accurately proofread their own writing and be consistently successful. Think about it: If I produce 1,000 words a day and I let one typo slip by every week, that’s actually a 99.986 percent success rate. If you think about it in terms of letters, rather than words, since most typos happen at the level of letters, that one typo a week equates to about a 99.997 percent success rate.

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