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posted by martyb on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:53AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the sum-thymes-ewe-jest-cant-sea-miss-takes dept.

Typos suck. They are saboteurs, undermining your intent, causing your resume to land in the “pass” pile, or providing sustenance for an army of pedantic critics. If we are our own harshest critics, why do we miss those annoying little details? Now Nick Stockton writes that the reason typos get through isn’t because we’re stupid or careless, it’s because what we’re doing is actually very smart. “When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high level task,” says psychologist Tom Stafford, who studies typos of the University of Sheffield in the UK. As with all high level tasks, your brain generalizes simple, component parts (like turning letters into words and words into sentences) so it can focus on more complex tasks (like combining sentences into complex ideas). "The reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads," writes Stockton. "When you’re proof reading, you are trying to trick your brain into pretending that it’s reading the thing for the first time." Stafford suggests that if you want to catch your own errors, you should try to make your work as unfamiliar as possible. Change the font or background color, or print it out and edit by hand. “Once you’ve learned something in a particular way, it’s hard to see the details without changing the visual form,” say Stafford.

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  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Sunday August 24 2014, @09:36AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Sunday August 24 2014, @09:36AM (#84892) Journal

    atkhti kldh dhfaohf sdhsdljis thejlsjfiu dksldfjs!!!!

    (Yes, I wish this was encryption and not typos, and no, I did not use preview.)

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  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday August 24 2014, @11:11AM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday August 24 2014, @11:11AM (#84903) Journal

    I've never caught a typo which I didn't catch! ;-)

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 1) by MickLinux on Sunday August 24 2014, @12:09PM

    by MickLinux (2659) on Sunday August 24 2014, @12:09PM (#84915)

    Part of the problem, for me, is not my own laziness, but active substitution by bad software.

    Ouch. Two comments, three comments. The coolness factor needs to go up.

  • (Score: 2) by SpockLogic on Sunday August 24 2014, @02:36PM

    by SpockLogic (2762) on Sunday August 24 2014, @02:36PM (#84945)

    That reminds me ...

    Aoccdrnig to rscheearch doen at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy,
      it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are,
      the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer
      be at the rghit pclae.

    --
    Overreacting is one thing, sticking your head up your ass hoping the problem goes away is another - edIII
    • (Score: 1) by OffTheWallSoccer on Monday August 25 2014, @07:16AM

      by OffTheWallSoccer (1010) on Monday August 25 2014, @07:16AM (#85228)

      Aoccdrnig to rscheearch doen at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy,
      it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are,
      the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer
      be at the rghit pclae.

      Surprisingly (to me), I was able to read that accurately at about normal speed. However, when reading it backwards (word at a time), the error rate went up and the reading rate slowed down. I wonder if the speed/accuracy of the forward attempt is partially owed to the brain using context and predictive techniques to help figure out the jumbled words.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24 2014, @03:20PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24 2014, @03:20PM (#84950)

    When I was a kid someone taught me that the trick to proof-reading your own copy is to read it out loud. That technique has never failed me. Sometimes I'm too lazy to do it, but when I do it, the result is always a 0% error rate.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Qzukk on Sunday August 24 2014, @03:42PM

      by Qzukk (1086) on Sunday August 24 2014, @03:42PM (#84956) Journal

      The trick I was taught was to start at the end of the paper and read it backwards.

      • (Score: 2) by bugamn on Sunday August 24 2014, @04:16PM

        by bugamn (1017) on Sunday August 24 2014, @04:16PM (#84970)

        Once I visited a graphic and the proof reader there used to reader the pages upside down.

      • (Score: 2) by carguy on Sunday August 24 2014, @04:36PM

        by carguy (568) on Sunday August 24 2014, @04:36PM (#84976)

        .suggestion the for thanks ,backward reading tried Haven't

        Printing, converting to PDF, or even changing editors (different screen appearance) seems to help me. Also query-replace for my common typing errors like an/as, it/if, to/too(two), or/on and similar.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:15PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:15PM (#85002)

        > The trick I was taught was to start at the end of the paper and read it backwards.

        While I can see that catching typos of the spelling error variety, I can't see how that would be helpful for anything else such as typos where you left out an entire word, like a missing article or homonyms and especially not grammar errors. If anything, reading backwards would mask those sorts of errors because you are no longer processing the text for meaning.

  • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday August 24 2014, @04:36PM

    by Tork (3914) on Sunday August 24 2014, @04:36PM (#84975)
    I get a kick out of people who count the typos that others make as some sort of intelligence or spelling test. It's extra humorous to think that they're unaware of how, by their own measure, stupid they sound.
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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:17PM (#85005)

      It is a sign of a rule-based mindset. You can count on people like that to care more about what is easily measured and tested rather than ideas and meaning.

    • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday August 25 2014, @12:27AM

      by aristarchus (2645) on Monday August 25 2014, @12:27AM (#85119) Journal

      Typographical errors are one thing. But if they are the result of ignorance or lack of literacy, they are not errors. Some for those who just can't be bothered to learn a language properly. In such cases, grammatical mistakes are an indication of the credibility an author deserves. (Please, Thoth, let there be no errors in this condescending remark!)

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      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Monday August 25 2014, @12:48AM

        by Tork (3914) on Monday August 25 2014, @12:48AM (#85127)
        Yes, I know the difference, that's why I'm pointing out how silly they're being. ;) In retrospect I wish I had mentioned that it often comes up while playing games. Because, you know, that's where you're going to do your best to be both grammatically correct and typo free, right?
        --
        Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
        • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday August 25 2014, @12:57AM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Monday August 25 2014, @12:57AM (#85130) Journal

          That must be where the expression "Read 'em and weep!" comes from.

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  • (Score: 1) by Walzmyn on Sunday August 24 2014, @05:53PM

    by Walzmyn (987) on Sunday August 24 2014, @05:53PM (#84992)

    We needed a study to tell us this?
    I thought it was pretty common freaking sense. Obviously, we know what it's *supposed* to say. So when you're proofing it, that's what your brain is reading, not what's on the screen.

    • (Score: 2) by tathra on Sunday August 24 2014, @08:41PM

      by tathra (3367) on Sunday August 24 2014, @08:41PM (#85066)

      whats common sense to you isnt common sense to everyone. remember, "common sense isn't". also, everything is obvious in hindsight.

  • (Score: 2) by nukkel on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:36PM

    by nukkel (168) on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:36PM (#85013)

    There's a typo in the story title. It's 'typo', not 'tpyo'.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:14PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:14PM (#85032)

      woosh

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday August 24 2014, @09:29PM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday August 24 2014, @09:29PM (#85081) Journal

        You have a typo in "whoosh".

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 1) by jpkunst on Friday September 05 2014, @04:56AM

      by jpkunst (2310) on Friday September 05 2014, @04:56AM (#89700)

      You have a typo in your psot title. It's 'title', not 'ttile'.

  • (Score: 2) by Daiv on Monday August 25 2014, @02:19PM

    by Daiv (3940) on Monday August 25 2014, @02:19PM (#85333)

    Went to a writing lab on campus for a couple of my freshman level creating writing papers. My helper had me re-read the same paragraph three times. Then he read it. Totally different. I kept reading it how I intended to write it. How I wrote it was completely different. Once it was pointed out, it's been something I've been very careful of ever since.

    Glad to know I'm not alone in this weird behavior.