Friday, January 13, 2012

Oh, Those Dreaded Typos

I'd like to welcome Tristi Pinkston as my guest blogger. Tristi is one to give a leg up to new authors like me. I always appreciate what she has to say and would like to tell her thanks for sharing blog posts today. (I've posted on her blog. Hop on over and check it out).

As authors, we spend days/weeks/decades working on our projects, and by the time we’re done, we have every word memorized, and we could recite the entire thing from start to finish almost without taking a breath.  We’ve read it so many times and revised it so many times that we’re sick to death of it and just want it to go away.  It’s no wonder, then, that we often don’t see the typos or other mistakes that remain.  We become blind to them.

This is one of the many reasons I advocate putting your manuscript off to the side for a little while before doing a final read-through.  If you go through eight rounds of edits and then dive right in to the last, chances are, you’re not going to see everything because it’s still right in the forefront of your brain.  If you put it aside and start something new, or take a couple of weeks off and read or watch movies or do something else you enjoy, your eyes will be fresh when you come back to it, and you’ll be able to see those mistakes much more clearly.

Typos not only make your work seem unprofessional, but they can sometimes be very … unfortunate.  I’ve found some that have been crass, crude, politically insensitive—all because of a missing word or a misspelled word.  I don’t want you to try to figure out what some of them might have been—that wouldn’t be a productive use of your time—but you can understand my meaning.  If you’re not careful to send out your draft as mistake-free as possible, you run the very real risk of causing offense without even knowing what you had done.

So take a deep breath and save the file.  Step away from it.  Fill your mind with other things.  Then, in two weeks or four weeks, when you’ve been outside for a picnic or you’ve watched Pride and Prejudice again (the Colin Firth version, which is the only true version, in my opinion) and your brain is recharged, dive back in.  Don’t force yourself to crank out your final edit within minutes after finishing the last one—you won’t be nearly as effective, you’ll give yourself a headache, and you know you really want to go for a picnic … maybe even with Colin Firth.

Tristi Pinkston is a freelance editor and author services provider, and she’s also the author of eight published books, with her ninth coming out in just a few weeks.  You can learn more about her, her books, and her company by visiting


  1. That final proof is so critical, and I have to let someone else do it because I can't NOT edit. And every time I edit, I leave new problems (too many words, or too few).

    But stepping away will let things jump out at you that you might have glossed over in an immediate reread. Another suggestion made by a blogosphere writer friend is to change the the font and font size. It changes the look enough that it's looking at it fresh.

  2. "A poet can survive anything- except a typo." In high school I had a silver bookmark engraved with that line. It makes me smile every time.