Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trusting Your Eyes

Mnay of you hvae sene tihs tpye of pargarpah bfeore. The etnrie piont is taht it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. And I'm nto eevn srue abuot taht! The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit too mcuh porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?


Since we're able to read the above paragraph, it provides an excellent example of just how easy it is to miss errors. It's important to be consciously aware of what you're doing when going over your work; don't rely solely on your eyes!


  1. CCP - There was a really interesting study of exactly this question. A researcher tested people to see how they process what they read and it turns out that part of our processing ('though not all of it, of course) is "top-down." That is, we get the general sense of what we're reading, rather than focusing on decoding words. So when a word is missing or spelled differently, we mentally "fill in the blanks." It's really interesting.

  2. Crystal, it always worries me when I can read paragraphs like that without any problem. LOL
    I have to read and reread my writing several times to cut down on how many mistakes I do have in it.

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. It's scary how easily I could read that! And when word processing spell checkers don't catch them...Humans are the only option left! So pick several of them, I suppose is the lesson.

    Writers Jailed today on SouthernCityMysteries

  4. LOL!! I'm all cross-eyed now! It really is amazing what eyes would read and transmit to the brain!!

    take care

  5. Even given the jumbling of letters, "important" still doesn't have an 'e' in it, though...

  6. So true. I'm very thankful for my wonderful critique partners. And editor.

  7. Margot: Sounds like an interesting study! I'd love to find that and learn more of the results!

    Mason and Michele: It IS scary, isn't it? It really makes you realize how very easy it is to miss things. Also, as you pointed out, Michele, if you use, for example, hear instead of here, spell check won't catch that.

    Old Kitty: LOL! ♥

    Willsin: Welcome!...and...OOPS! Thanks for pointing that out! I actually found the paragraph online and simply copied and pasted it – another excellent example of the importance of proofreading! I will never again just assume that something I find like this is 'okay as is'... !

    Carol: Gives you a whole new appreciation for critique partners and editors, doesn't it? :)

  8. That’s why we love editors and line editors.

  9. Helps to start at the bottom of the page (or the last page) and read backward for editing. While it doesn't avoid the 'brain sees what it wants' issue totally, it does help remove context from the mix.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  10. Thank God for good editors and proof readers. I've had a few really good ones. Without them I'd be a mess.

    Stephen Tremp

  11. I seen this before. It always amazes me. I love it!

  12. I could read it perfectly! Good point, Crystal. :) Reading aloud definitely helps, or passing it through a great editor, like yourself.

  13. Holly: ♥

    Terry: Reading backward is one oldest "tricks" in the proverbial book. I remember teachers stressing that this be done before handing in a paper.

    Stephen: LOL! A mess, huh? Hopefully you held on to those few good editors you found! :)

    Alex: Mmmm...I hear you have a pretty good editor! :)

    CC: I know. Every time I see this it still amazes me!

    Elizabeth: Aww...thank you so much for the compliment! Made my day!

  14. I love that paragraph! Thanks for the reminder to read more carefully when editing.

  15. Excellent point! I'm amazed at how easy it was to read that paragraph...the human mind really is incredible.


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