The NLP Pattern of the Month:



  1. Place the correct spelling of the word in front of you so you can see it easily.
  2. Close your eyes and think of something that feels familiar and relaxing. When the feeling is strong, open your eyes and look at the correct spelling.
  3. Move your eyes up and to the left and picture the correct spelling in your mind's eye. (If you have difficulty use the Helpful Hints below.)
  4. Look up at your mental image and write down the letters you see. Check what you have written against the correct spelling. If incorrect go to step #1.
  5. Look up at your mental image and spell the word backwards (write the letters down from right to left). Check the spelling. If incorrect, go to step #3.


  1. Picture the word in your favorite color.
  2. Make any unclear letters stand out by making them look different than the others in some way - e.g. bigger, brighter, closer, a different color, etc.
  3. Break the word into groups of three letters and build your picture three letters at a time.
  4. Put the letters on a familiar background. Picture something like a familiar object or movie scene then put the letters you want to remember on top of it.
  5. If it is a long word, make the letters small enough so that you can see the whole word easily.
  6. Trace the letters in the air with your finger and picture in your mind the letters you are writing.


Like all effective strategies, the NLP Spelling Strategy is made up of a T.O.T.E. (T.O.T.E. stands for Test-Operate-Test-Exit, the basic feedback loop operating in any mental program. For further information see NLP Vol.1.) The Test phase of the T.O.T.E. (regardless of how the information is input) involves checking a Visual=>Kinesthetic synesthesia (Vr=>Kr) involving the submodalities of the clarity of image and intensity of a feeling of familiarity. If there is no familiar image there, the three operations consist of:

  1. thinking of something positive and easy to remember and anchor that feeling to the correct spelling by simply looking at the correct spelling;
  2. looking up and left and visualizing the correct spelling in the mind's eye; and
  3. looking up and left and spelling the word backwards.

With long words, people often experience difficulty in being able to initially visualize the entire words easily (especially people new to the process of visualizing). Most often what happens is that some letters are clear but the rest get out of focus or hazy. In such a situation one needs some operations to make the unclear letters stand out. In this case there are two more sub-operations that may be used:

  1. breaking the word down into groups of letters (typically groups of three); and

  2. changing some sub-modality quality of the letters that have been difficult to visualize in such a way that makes them stand out. For instance, the letters can be made brighter, put in one's favorite color, put on a familiar background, made bigger, etc.

Another operation that can help to anchor in the remembered image of letters that are not clear is to overlap from the kinesthetic system by tracing the letters in the air.

The following T.O.T.E. diagram summarizes the basic elements of the overall strategy.

Also see the Article of the Month or the Archives if you are interested in checking out NLP in more depth.

For information on Robert Dilts’ products and services, please see Upcoming Seminars or Robert’s Product Page or return to Home Page. If you have problems or comments concerning our WWW service, please send e-mail to the following address:

This page, and all contents, are Copyright © 1998 by Robert Dilts., Santa Cruz, CA.