Typos Are a Kiss of Death To Your Paper

Short for typographical error, a typo is a mistake made in typed or printed text. Some quick examples are spelling occurrence with one ‘c’ or ‘r,’ or spelling ‘receive’ as ‘recieve.’ Even if you are an expert in the ‘i before e except after c rule,’ it’s easy to type a word as common as ‘sceince’ incorrectly. See what we mean?

Typos aren’t a new problem either. There are a few old editions of the King James Bible that have typos. A 1612 edition known as the “Printers Bible” reads “Printers have persecuted me without a cause” instead of “Princes have persecuted me without a cause,” and another one from 1635 is called the “Sinner’s Bible” because it reads “Thou shalt commit adultery” instead of “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Whoops.

While computers and smartphones have made our lives easier, they can’t fix one basic issue: human error. We still misspell words and make errors in punctuation. In fact, typos normally happen when you’re thinking too quickly for your typing fingers to catch up. This may cause you to hit two keys at once, mix up letters, or even type a word you didn’t mean to write. The most common typos you’ll see are rearranged letters, missing or added letters, repeated words, or missing and incorrect punctuation. Let’s run through some examples of all these.

Nobody likes reading a poorly written paper. It is very boring and frustrating to read a paper and to try to figure out what those weird words are. After you submit your paper, an editor is assigned to read your paper. If you let down your editor with your poor spellings and typos, he will shot down further processing of your manuscript.

There is something about typos that makes it hard to catch your own typos. Typos undermine the quality of your manuscript, and ironically, they are usually words that you know how to spell. But how come our eyes miss those annoying little details? The reason for not catching typos isn’t because we are careless. Tom Stafford is a psychologist who studies typos of the University of Sheffield. He explains that “When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high level task. We don’t catch every detail, we’re not like computers or NSA databases,” said Stafford. “Rather, we take in sensory information and combine it with what we expect, and we extract meaning.” When we’re reading other peoples’ work, this helps us arrive at meaning faster by using less brain power. When we’re proof reading our own work, we know the meaning we want to convey. Because we expect that meaning to be there, it’s easier for us to miss when parts (or all) of it are absent. 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”.

So, if we cannot always catch our own typos, what is the solution?

how to avoid typosUse the auto-correct feature in your word-processing software.

how to avoid typosAsk a friend or colleague to read your paper

how to avoid typosPrint your paper and read the printed version, instead of reading it on a screen

how to avoid typosTake a break or walk out and come back later to check the spelling. A tired brain cannot catch all typos.

About Scientific Editing: (www.Scientific-editing.info): Scientific Editing is a trusted science editing company that provides editing and proofreading services for the global research community. Scientific Editing was established with a goal to accelerate international scientific research communication. At Scientific Editing, we take great effort to understand our authors’ needs. We aim to help scientists and academic authors break through the language barriers, bridge the gap between authors and peer-reviewed journals, and accelerate the process of publishing high-quality articles.

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