The Pen is Mightier than the Sword!

For those who write, edit and/or proofread their own work or that of others.

I’ve been keeping a running list, based on proofreading other writer’s work and my own. Here’s what I’ve found so far.

  • often/of ten (I go there often./Here’s a list of ten things I found.)
  • ding/doing (Your boss might ding you for that activity./Are you doing that task correctly?)
  • tired/tried (I quickly tired of the task./I tried but failed to complete the task.)
  • fired/fried (He was fired for being late./I fried those eggs until they were done.)
  • wired/weird (Your connections must be wired correctly./Your configuration of those components is weird.)
  • or/our (You can go here or there./You can go to our website.)
  • there/their (You can go here or there./If you go to their website… )

I think (hope) you get the idea so I’ll continue with just the words – no examples.)

  • form/from
  • here/her
  • envelops/envelopes
  • principle (idea, concept)/principal (a person; CEO, president, etc.)
  • tough/though/thought/through
  • hew/new/mew
  • complement/compliment
  • compiles/complies
  • front/font
  • thing/think
  • closet/closer

This is by no means a comprehensive list. The correct word to use depends greatly on the subject matter of your document. For example: You probably would not use the word “mew” (the sound a cat makes) in a technical manual or white paper about a new customer management software program.

As you can see, a lot of these “typos” are not typos at all. They are due to “fat-fingering” on the keyboard as you’re typing your masterpiece. But as long as they are spelled correctly, the spell-check feature of Word (or your favorite word processing program will not flag them as typos. Finding them in your document requires keen attention to detail a.k.a. proofreading your own work – that is, if you don’t have the luxury of enlisting someone else to do it, who has the keen eye needed for this. Surprisingly, they are fairly easy to identify when you are reading or proofreading what someone else has written.

A primary reason for sharing this information is because anyone who is working (or wants to work) as a freelance writer wants their writing (article, log, marketing piece, etc.) to be polished and error-free. Errors like the ones I have listed above can degrade your integrity as a writer – regardless of the subject matter. A slip of the finger can make all the difference – particularly if you tout yourself as “detail-oriented”.

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