Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bad Typing Habits: Two Errors for Every 300 Keystrokes

As a writer, especially a technical writer, I am aware about my bad typing habits. I am not a bad typist, the problem is I am a fast typist who thinks ahead of what I am typing. When I edit my material, I often find I leave out words, which confuses the meaning of what I type. I know I it’s a problem that many writers face when they type out their work.

Obviously, there is no cure for the bad habits with the exception of slowing down. Slow down your typing, and slow down thinking ahead of yourself. That’s hard to do, especially when you have an amazing thought that you want to express in your writing. The fear of losing the thought for accuracy scares most writers, especially those who are perfectionist with their thoughts.

The only solution is good editing. If you are like me, you are constantly writing during the day. When you add the additional blogging activities to your day, where does one find time to edit? I know my blogs often suffer from my lack of time and desire to get the information on the net so it can be read. I guess many of us compromise on some work and pay attention to the more important jobs all so we can fit everything in and meet deadlines. It’s really an unacceptable compromise.

I was reading a report at work that we are using for a new product. It claims that for every 300 keystrokes the average typist makes, there are two errors made. When you are typing a 1500 word article, that could easily mean there are 25 errors in the work. Ouch!

I don’t have to tell you, for many of us with English degrees on the wall, that’s just not acceptable; although, it’s really not a direct reflection on how well you use the English language. Typing is hard. It’s hard because we acquire bad habits. I have been typing now for 23 years. Imagine how hard that can be to fix after being conditioning those habits for years. Therefore, technical writers need to enforce their editing skills. You must find time to edit. If you don’t, you will embarrass yourself.

I recommend electronic editing through a software program called StyleWriter. It runs a quick pass through of your document and asks you to look at problem areas. Then print out your documents, get a pencil out, and manually edit your document. My editing instructor from college would be proud of me for making this suggestion. You will be surprised what you find. Remember that’s two errors for every 300 keystrokes.

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