Whenever a business person says he or she can no longer write with a pen or pencil, I automatically know two things about them.
One, they edit their documents on their computer screens.
Two, their work will most likely contain typos, extra words, or missing words.
It is extremely difficult to edit or to proofread from a computer screen. Your eyes will gloss over the words, and you will read what you think you wrote rather than what is actually there.
Although some people are convinced that the computer can provide a sufficient grammar and editing check, nothing beats proofreading from a hard copy. True, the computer will pick up many errors, but the program is not sophisticated enough to determine how you are actually using the words or if you have omitted any.
Now there are some writers who tell me they just don’t have time to print their documents, particularly if they just want to send a quick email. All right then, for these people here are two ways to limit the risk:
- Hold a straight edge (sheet of paper or ruler) against the screen to prevent your eyes from darting.
- Enlarge the type to at least 150% so the errors stand out more.
These two techniques will reduce your chance of missing errors, but I still believe nothing will replace editing from a print copy.