Technology and the fundamentals of spelling and grammar checkers
How spelling and grammar checkers can break your communications
Every writer must understand what automated grammar checkers and spell checkers are able to provide in the way of assistance and improvement, but an understanding of its limitations is also vital. Spelling and grammar checkers should complement your writing, editing, revising and proofreading process. Not replace it!
Spelling the wrong word correctly
Spell check only works effectively when identifying words that are blatantly misspelled. A spell checker will not highlight instances where you have used the wrong word.
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The spell checker only confirms all of the words that are in the software dictionary, not whether you, the writer, have used them in the right place or even in the right order or context. Think about common mistakes when using ‘their’ and ‘there’. A spell-checker will not highlight where you might have used the wrong one. You would have to read your writing to notice this common mistake.
Spell checker’s consistent failure
Consistency plays a vital role in presenting prospective clients with a professionally written proposal. Spell checkers are particularly bad in consistency leaving the door open for different spellings of the same word within a sing document.
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Avoid the right click trap
When writing any document a good writer will always look for creative words to express opinions and persuade audiences. We’ve already established that modern word processing applications have built-in automated spell-checking and grammar-checking tools which should be used wisely. However, the built-in thesaurus, which most writers appreciate, is often the cause of terrible copy.
Most writers understand and appreciate the value of such tools and use them daily to help ensure a level of quality in their writing. Some, however, see an over-reliance on them as a contributing factor in a general degradation of the English literacy standard.
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Right clicking on a word in a sentence brings up a list of alternative words. Very often this “right click trap” turns strong sentences into weakly written gobbledygook.
The bottom line: Use spelling and grammar checkers conservatively
Spelling and Grammar checkers certainly saves an immense amount of time but it should not replace careful proofreading and editing. Bear in mind that the tool is a piece of programmed software, using preset rules and algorithms, to compare your text with what it believes to be correct English.
Always proofread your writing. Allow some time to pass between writing and proofreading, perhaps a day or two at least, will help sharpen your eye to spot mistakes.