Ctrl+F (a.k.a. the Find Function).
Some mistakes and typos are so similar to the correct spelling that it is extremely difficult to pick them up. This is where Ctrl-F comes in.
1. Make a list of words that you could easily mix up or misspell. Below is a few examples from McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook by Laura Anderson p123:
- accept ~ except
- affect ~ effect
- alter ~ altar
- born ~ borne
- their ~ there
- prostate ~ prostrate
- quiet ~ quite
2. Then go through your essay and check you have used the right word in the right situation by entering the words into the search box of the Find Function. Remember the Find Function only reveals instances when you wrote in exactly what you typed in the search box, though. So you need to go through the document searching all variations of each word that you may have used at different times (including completely incorrect variations that you know you write occasionally, in case the spellcheck function misses them).
Other things you should check:
- Apostrophes – you shouldn’t be contracting words in an essay, like “shouldn’t”, but it’s easy to do by accident. Also, you can check your possessive apostrophes at the same time.
- Consistent spelling – which is the topic for my next post…
Ctrl+F is very good way to pick up those nearly impossible to spot errors and after you have been writing for a while, you’ll know what words you commonly make mistakes with and so will have a good list to search.
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