Boring Background Information

Tom Stafford studies typos at the University of Sheffield in England, which is a prety cool job, and he says that typos are actually a product of our propensity for high level thinking. Proofreading challenges our brian because our brains are generally effective because of its ability to organize and understand the world, despite minor inconsistencies and errors in our mental models.

One reason typos are hard to spot, Mr. Starford explains, is that our brains are unable to process all data it encounters, and so we generalize turn raw daat into more coherent chunks. This allows us to see letters rather than lines or raw color. But it also forces us to see words or even phrases, when we are trying to see words. And this is the problem with proofreading: seeing words in context makes it much harder to spot errors.

This project builds off the Sheffeld University research and the intuittion behind this work by providing a simple interface in which you can experirence your writing with fresh eyes.

Did you notice the typos above? If you did, kudos to you! Use TypoVision to see them all: Demo

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About Proofreading Tool

The idea. It is hard for people to proofread and edit their own writing, because they are too familiar and can comprehend the sentences without noticing errors. No tool will ever be as helpful as a professional proofreader, but this simple tool can help by displaying the text in an unfamiliar way, that exposes errors and typos.

How it works. We simply break the string into individual words, and then alphabetize the list. The "filtered" search removes some common words from the list, which can help speed up the checking process.

Why it helps. The tool is particularly good for spotting errors in proper nouns, that may have been used inconsistantly. It also helps you notice typos and spelling errors.

Future Plans. We named the project TypoVision because it was inspired by the desire to see ones own writing with fresh eyes. In the near future we hope to expand on the idea, by presenting information in other formats besides simply alphabetized lists. For example, we would like to scramble your writing so that each sentence is displayed in order, but as a list of bullet points.

Attention Attorneys

Proofreading is particularly important for legal work. And this tool is particularly useful for attorneys who must make sure they have spelled defined terms correctly. While this is not strictly "legal software" it is software that is very helpful for attorneys. Imagine drafting a large credit, mortgage or loan document and being able to instantly check if all defined terms are being used consistantly. Using the filtered version of that software reveals those errors instantly.


Tips for Disoriented Proofreading

1. Print it.

2. Use a pen to point as you read.

3. Change to a different font.

4. Read it out loud.

5. Read it out loud, loudly.

6. Listen with text to speech.

7. Focus on a single type of error.

8. Turn on editors symbols in word.

9. Read it in reverse, one word at at time.

10. Hire someone else read it to you.

The Cost of Bad Proofreading

$80 Million. NASA once blew up an unmanned spacecraft because its programmers forgot to include a dash in the trajectory code.

$1 Billion. A digital heist to steal more than a billion dollars was thwarted because of a spelling error in the thief's code. They tried to deposit funds into a shell "foundation" but typed in "fandation" instead.

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