Take a look at this paragraph. Can you read what it says? All the letters have been jumbled (mixed). Only the first and last letter of ecah word is in the right place:
I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.
This is the corrected paragraph:
I couldn’t believe that I could actually understand what I was reading. Using the incredible power of the human brain, according to research at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be in the right place. The rest can be a total, mess and you can read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole. Amazing, huh? Yeah and I always thought spelling was important! See if your friends can read this too!
Well spelling is actually very important – especially in the workplace. However, it does demonstrate why proofreading is so difficult!
Unfortunately, we all need to improve our proofreading. So I thought I’d post a few hints and tips here.
Try looking for different things on each proofread. Don’t try and do it all in one go. So for example…
- First, proofread to ensure the capital letters are all in the right place.
- Then proofread to check your spellings, especially words you regularly get wrong (do you have a word list?)
- Then look for homophones (for example: their, there and they’re)
- Then read it through to see if it makes sense.
- Also have a read through just looking at the ends of words – have you missed any off?
That would mean reading the document through 5 times, and sometimes that is what it takes! You could make yourself a checklist and use it every time you proofread.
- Don’t proofread your work straight away, if possible, put it to one side for a short while and then look at it again.
- Proofread on paper, not on screen – it’s easier.
- If you are looking for spelling errors, try reading the document backwards (in other words, start with the last word).
PS Did you spot the spelling mistakes in the photos? Did I make any typos in this blog post?