TYPE-OHs! Kill Them One by One

Books? Love them! Typos found in my books? HATE them.

Maybe hate is not the correct word. Despise, loathe…well, I can’t think of a strong enough word to describe the feeling of seeing those wicked, little syllables that are misplaced, misspelled, and/or repeated too many times. Who knew I’d feel the need to use the word sublime, eleven times in one manuscript! Once those sneaky, extra sublime(s) were found, I murdered them with glee.

Funny thing? If I run across typos in other books, they don’t bother me! That may be because I realize many books have them, and if they are not excessive, I still enjoy the story. The story matters more to me, and I know how easy it is to miss these annoying tidbits of literature. However, writers want to avoid typos like the Black Plague, so a typo check list can help. In addition, remember—a good editor is worth his/her weight in gold.

Let’s get this typo seeking rampage on! Be sure to check your novel and make sure the plot has enough conflict, memorable characters, and a good story arc. Is there a nice balance between dialogue and narrative? Look for plot holes. Is the sequencing of events correct? If so, then gear up with your favorite caffeinated drink, and make sure it is strong, because hunting for typos is a challenge.

Catch Typos

  • Slow down! One reason typos are missed is that all-important deadline. Is the world going to end if your book goes to print one day, or one week late? NO. It is definitely preferable to make the deadline, but not if the price to pay is allowing those pesky typos to live. I say—read, breathe…hunt for typos, eat chocolate and Twizzlers, plus drink lots of hot tea. Repeat; and I mean repeat those actions 100 times. Yes, it does seem like the editing process never ends!
  • After your masterpiece is finished, acquire not only a marvelous editor, but other readers who will help find typos too. Here’s a thought…have a contest to see who can find the most typos in your manuscript! Hard work deserves a reward, so make it fun for your volunteer proofreaders.
  • Words used too often are disappointing to find, but keep track of them while working on your manuscript, and kill them when you feel the need. Since it seems I have a special attachment for some words, I must do this typo check often, like every six to ten chapters. Words to look for: about, amazing, and, beautiful, because, big, enjoy, even, funny, good, great, happy, just, kind, oh, okay, small, that, very (Google commonly overused words and sift through the lists. They are quite handy!)
  • Find/Replace Tool: Distracted by your character’s plight, it’s super easy to quickly mix up homophones like, they’re, their, and there. (Also check one, won, board, bored, hair, hare, it’s its, pore, pour, sea, see, to, two, too, wood, would) Use the Find/Replace tool to locate these words and correct them. Check out this page to confuse you a bit more! HOMONYMS, HOMOPHONES, HOMOGRAPHS, and HETERONYMS
  • Commonly misspelled words are never desired, but these little monsters living within the world of words must be banished! Here is a wonderful list to get you started. Acreage, entrepreneur, fiery, gauge, guarantee, memento, rhythm, and vacuum all made this list.
  • Spacing/Bold/Italicized Words: Have you checked your print and digital books for formatting issues? For instance, are all of your chapter headings the same, and have you looked for any big gaps with spacing or letters crunched together? Also remember to check the words you want italicized.
  • Keeping your characters’ names consistent is important. If Jacob has the nickname Jake every other page, that might get confusing. The spelling of a name can cause problems too. Are you going to use Rachael or Rachel?  See! Typos are easy to unleash.

The above tips will get you started. Please feel free to leave a typo check tip for us all to use. Better yet…brighten the day with the funniest typo you’ve had to correct.

Have a typo free day, and thanks for visiting the Noracast!


13 thoughts on “TYPE-OHs! Kill Them One by One

  1. I tend to read quickly and skim, especially when I know what happens. (Not sure if that makes me quick or lazy.)

    So, once I have my complete manuscript, I start at the end and read one sentence at a time. Yes, it is time consuming, but I find things I thought made sense are completely ridiculous.

  2. Fun post with useful information too! I have my list of words, and it’s a long list, to go through using word search and eliminate as many as possible. It can be a very eye opening and shocking experience. I’m currently editing chapters on my WIP and some text was written using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech to text program. Boy, it’s proven to be hillarious at times at the word(s) it puts as text from my speech. One off the top of my head was acknowledgement. It typed ‘a knowledge met.’ So yes, you need to read and re-read your work. Thanks again for such a fun post.

    • “a knowledge met” Holy cows…that is funny! I never considered what a speech to text program might do. Your comment will surely be a great reminder to all writers about not counting on spell-check too much because “a knowledge met” does not contain misspelled words. Thank you for the tip!

  3. One of the things I tell my clients when they go through rounds of self-editing is that it’s best to tackle major problem areas one at a time. For example, I went through all chapter endings in my first novel to double check that there was either a cliffhanger, foreshadowing, or twist. It beefed up my endings and made it that much easier for readers to continue on to the next chapter.

    And yes! I agree completely that CTRL-F (Find), or rather, CTRL-H (Find/Replace) is a writer’s best friend. I recommend using it for formatting issues as well, such as italics or consistency of character names. You can even use it to fix incorrect dashes. And while I’m on the subject, learn the difference between the en dash, the em dash, and the hyphen. They are used for very different reasons and your future typographer will thank you if you get them right. =)

    • Super suggestions for finding and killing typos!
      I really like the idea of checking chapter endings. I’ve not heard of this editing tip before now.
      Also, you are absolutely correct that learning the difference between en dash, the em dash, and the hyphen
      are important. So, off I go to search Google for those answers! Thank you for your wonderful input. 🙂

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