Obliterating Typos, One Step at a Time

When you work with documents that will end up in a design file—or that go through multiple rounds of revisions—it can be all too easy for typos to slip into your text. Adopt these four tips to minimize errors’ chances of getting by you.

  1. Do a substantive edit first—then a copyedit. Any time content undergoes substantial revisions, be sure to follow up with a separate copyedit. If having two editors do these rounds is an option, even better. Reviewing the same text over and over can make spotting small errors more difficult.
  2. Copyedit your text before you put it into design. This might seem obvious, but sometimes it seems more expedient to see your copy “in layout.” However, design software doesn’t offer the tracking and revision capabilities of, say, Microsoft Word. You’ll make spotting mistakes trickier—and likely make more work for the designer, who’ll need to repour or re-align text.
  3. Double-proof your designed file. A great editor can catch every mistake in one pass, right? Wrong. If you’re looking for anything close to error-free copy, double-proofing is essential. That means your designed file goes to two separate human beings who proofread it independently. Many errors will be caught by both proofreaders. But each person will catch a handful that the other missed.
  4. Comparison proof every change.  No matter how careful your designer, if you give them a set of corrections to make, they will miss something. It’s just human nature. If you don’t want typos left in your text—or new errors introduced—you must proof behind your designer and check every correction. Yes, it’s a pain. Yes, it takes time. But it must be done.

Perfection can often feel elusive, even for the most diligent of editors. But by putting these steps into place, every time you publish, you’ll have a fighting chance of getting there.
This post was adapted from a post written by Dragonfly president Samantha Enslen and originally published on Copyediting.com.



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