Common Errors: Spelling

Common Errors
In everyday practice, most writers make a limited number of errors in the basics, but repeat those errors often. Below is a list of frequently occurring errors and corrections with techniques to prevent them.

Studies show that people tend to continually misspell a relatively small number of words— between 25 and 50—in their day-to-day writing. John Gardner, a best-selling author, has a solution that’s worked for him. Consider Gardner’s technique below:

1. When you look up a word, or when you or someone finds an error and corrects the word’s spelling, make a mark in your dictionary next to that word.

2. When you have made three marks next to that word, add it to a list you keep on a small slip of paper. Keep that slip in your wallet or handbag.

3. Whenever you proofread, bring out the list, and put it next to what you’re editing. This mini-dictionary, which is with you in garrison and in the field, will act as a screen for about 80 percent of your recurring spelling errors.

There are other reasons for spelling errors, of course, such as ineffective proofreading techniques. In this area, as in others, it’s helpful to share with your colleagues what works for you in typical writing tasks.