In a perfect world, we would have ample time to formally edit everything we write. From lengthy quarterly reports to casual emails, we would ensure that participles never dangle, metaphors never mix, and all misspellings are instantly vaporized. But, that’s not reality–sometimes we just have to get the message out, and fast!
So, how do we handle a very short document that needs to be delivered right away? My personal trick is to read the entire piece aloud to make sure I’ve included all of the important information. Then, I say each word twice. Why twice? The majority of my own mistakes are not actually misspellings but incorrect words or word endings (e.g., —s, —ing, —ed), which aren’t flagged by the spellchecker. Therefore, I check overall spelling the first time and endings the second time. If you know your own writing quirks, modify this process to focus on those issues.
As I verbalize each word, I also follow along with my finger on the screen. Physically following my progress prevents me from going too fast or skipping content altogether. (However, touch your computer screen at your own risk!)
The process only requires a couple seconds per word. If you are about to send a 100-word email to a potential client, consider spending 200 seconds on typo prevention–that’s less than three and a half minutes for a little piece of mind…sorry, peace of mind!
Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in small business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.