Thank God for Typo Snipers
The best way to catch a typo is to hire a professional editor who can snipe one from 1,000 yards away. I’m so thankful for people who have this ability. I sure doesn’t. (You see what I did there?)
I’ve been working on a book to help pastors in the job-search process. It’s called Don’t Just Send a Resume. If you follow my blog, you’ve heard me talk about it for the last month. By the way, thanks to everyone who has given to the project via Kickstarter. I’m at 91% of the goal with 7 days to go! If we should exceed the goal, every dollar I get above and beyond will go toward hiring a professional graphic designer to create the cover of the book.
Anyway, over the last three years, I’ve had a few dozen people read over the book, even hiring several professional editors. I’m so thankful for each of them: Mary Wells, Gavin Ortlund, Russell Meek, Stacey Covell, Alex Duke, and Alexandra Richter. Also, my esteemed co-workers Jason Abbott and Ben Bechtel spent a good bit of time tweaking early versions of the material. And this isn’t even mentioning the dozen others who have offered suggestions along the way. To everyone who has helped and will help, please know how grateful I am.
How to Improve as a Self-Editor
If you don’t have the time or money for professional editing, and you don’t trust the ability of your friends, there are several things you can do to improve the quality of your self-editing. Here are five of my tips:
First, run the spell check. Simple, right? Yet it’s often not done. Make sure to do it even if you think you’re golden.
Second, print what you wrote and read it aloud. Most people catch more typos when they’re not reading silently from a screen.
Third, use editing software on the Internet. My two favorites are the Hemingway App and Grammarly. Both are available in free and paid versions. Also, Grammarly has an add-on for Chrome and Outlook to help with e-mails. I’ve been using the paid version of Grammarly for the last two years. So helpful.
Fourth, if you have time, put the document away for a few days. It can be difficult to see your own mistakes when you’re too close to them. I think this is something of a spiritual metaphor.
Finally, use software that can “read” out loud so your document can be read back to you. My favorite is NaturalReader. As with the Hemingway App and Grammarly, you can use NaturalReader on the Internet or download it for your desktop. Be advised that electronic readers all sound a little choppy and mechanical, but you’re not listening for eloquence; you’re listening for typos. This final layer of self-editing is where I often catch mistakes I never would have found otherwise. If you don’t want to mess with finding software to do this, many smartphones are able to read text. A quick Internet search will show you how to do this. For the iPhone, you swipe down with two fingers.
Look, we all can’t be typo snipers. And that’s okay. The Lord gives us different gifts. But if writing is a key part of your job—and especially if you understand writing to be a part of your calling as a Christian—then we should seek to grow in our ability to write with clarity.