Discovering typos too late can be the stuff of nightmares. They harm your credibility, cost you sales and they’re just plain sloppy. Clients are also none too happy after finding their brand name mispelt in one thousand matt laminated brochures. Indeed, proofreading deserves care and attention.
Best practice is to print out your copywriting and check it line by line with a ruler. Reading through it backwards also helps. Another tactic, I recommend, is to read it out loud. Rather than feed your ego, reading out your writing will help you to gauge its flow and tone, and it’ll reveal pesky typo gremlins before they cause any trouble.
Your brain can be blind to typos when you read alone
When just reading your copy your brain can play tricks on you. It has a habit of skipping over words and missing out letters altogether in its rush to understand what the text is about. But when you read out your copy, your brain slows down to process every sentence, word and syllable. This will reveal errors and typos in all their ugly glory.
If you dont have a proofreader on standby, and you feel awkward reading out your own copywriting (or is it just me?), MS Word has a speech addon you might find useful. This will read your writing back to you (in a weird robotic way) so you can hear how it sounds in your reader’s mind and uproot errors before you hit publish.
Converting your copywriting into speech also helps when working on video scripts so you can test them out before shelling out for a professional voice over.
How to switch on ‘text to speech’ on MS Word 2010
If you’re using Word 2010 onwards, you can activate Speech as follows:
- Click on the ‘Customize Quick Access Toolbar’ arrow in the top left corner of the screen (just to the right of the ‘Repeat Typing’ circling arrow).
- Click on ‘More Commands’
- Click on ‘Customise’
- Select ‘All Commands’ in the dropdown menu
- Scroll down to ‘Speech’ to add it to your shortcut commands
- Then simply highlight the text, right click and select the speech option
If you’re stuck in the dark ages (like me) battling with an earlier verion of Word, you can install the WordTalk plugin created by the generous chaps at Edinburgh University.
Another option is Yakitome.com. Simply paste in your text, select your favourite voice and hit play. The website is free to use and you need only create an account if you’d like to download the audio.
So if typo gremlins keep infesting your work, convert your copywriting into speech to banish them for good.