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Stephen Wilbers: Proofreading puzzle for the new decade

  • Article by: STEPHEN WILBERS
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • January 17, 2010 - 4:41 PM

With multi-tasking, constant interruptions and our hurried pace these days, proofreading errors are proliferating. Mean wile, we risk losing credibility in the eyes of our readers.

For many writers -- and I'm one of them -- it's easier to proofread (not proof read) on paper than on screen. For this reason, I like to print my copy on scrap paper and proofread it that way, one word at a time. Aye also change the font and enlarge it so that the patterns of letters that have become familiar to me while composing look fresh and new. Altering the appearance of my text in this way helps my eyes challenge the image held in my mind.

I fish I could spot every error. Despite my efforts, however, I continue to embarrass (not embarass) myself with alarming regularity. But this year will be different. In 2010, I vow to produce error-free text. I resolve, in short, to be perfect.

Perhaps you made the same resolution. And perhaps so far this year yew have avoided writing suppose for supposed or inadvertently omitting a number in a sequence of items. If so, I congratulate you.

But for me, proofreading can be eh nightmare. When I think of all the proofreading errors I've made over the years, I find it difficult to sleep at night. The only thing that gives me peas is to be foal of determination to make no proofreading errors in 2010. None. Zilch. Zero.

In my writing seminars I typically offer this advice:

Read one word at a time, fixating on each word individually.

Read out loud or, if that's not practical, subvocalize to slow yourself down.

Concentrate on one line of text at a time, using a sheet of paper or a card to cover the lines below.

When you find an error, reread the entire sentence in which the error occurred.

Pay special attention to headings, captions and highlighted text because their authoritative appearance can fool you into thinking they contain no errors.

As it was for most people I know, 2009 was an uncommonly rewarding and prosper us year for me, hand I don't want 2010 to be any different. Proofreading errors could very well prevent me from being nappy. So you'll find no errors in anything you see from me.

With one exception. This column contains a proofreading puzzle made up of 11 intentional typographical errors (and I hope no unintentional errors). Each error is an incorrect word or words for the intended meaning, but each incorrect word is also a correctly spelled word, such as nay for may. None of the errors would be detected by your spell checker, as would hte for the.

So, find the 11 errors and correct the misspelled words for a 10-word sentence expressing my New Year's wish for you. Meanwhile, I wish you a peaceful, prosperous and happy deck aide.

(I'm counting those last two words as a single typographical error. You have 10 to go.)

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