Where SpellCheck Fails
It is easy to make common spelling and grammar errors when typing quickly. Thoughts can move faster than we can type, creating typos and other mishaps in articles. Article writers need to proofread writing to correct these mistakes and Spellcheck is the tool used most often to make the corrections. Unfortunately, Spellcheck does not correct all writing errors. Even after running the tool, you may still have several problems with your text that can only be caught by human eyes. Relying on automated spelling checkers and grammar checkers will not change your work into the perfectly written article.
Spellcheck automatically corrects words when you mistype letters such as replacing “hte” with “the.” This replacement doesn’t always work when you misspell a word such as “expresso” which should be “espresso”, but Spellcheck replaces with “express.” Spellcheck will not replace misused words that are spelled correctly such as homophones.
Spellcheck does not correct the capitalization of proper nouns in most cases, nor will it recognize many technical terms and abbreviations. It may treat them as misspelled words or ignore them. You can create a custom dictionary with words you use repeatedly; however, you will have to add each word manually.
The grammar rules included in Spellcheck or Grammar-check software is also not infallible. While it works on simple sentence structure, complex sentences including compound parts and multiple clauses confuse the program. This problem will result in addition of semicolons where they are not required or mislabeling a sentence as a phrase.
Context and Meaning
Spellcheck does not understand the meaning of words in context, therefore it will miss mistakes such as this one, “The moon jumped fiddle over the cow,” even though it doesn’t make sense as written. The tool will also not remove words that change the meaning of the sentence, such as misplaced negatives like “no” and “not.”
Singular and Plural
Correcting mistakes in singular and plural forms is another problem for Spellcheck. Since the program cannot read your mind, it doesn’t always realize that you meant to put an “s” at the end of your word. This is a mistake that can only be caught when rereading your own work.
Checking the Spellcheck
In conclusion, using Spellcheck to correct writing is a good first step, but before you turn in your paper or article, the next step should be a human proofreader.
Author James Michener said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” Most writing needs to be rewritten to be at its best, so looking it over to rewrite, correct, and condense can only improve the entire article. As you review your work, take the time to check noun and verb agreement, capitalization of proper nouns, and the spelling and use of technical terms. If you are already going cross-eyed from working on your article, take a break for an hour, then come back to it for revision. This technique will give you a fresh-eyed view.
Paula A can usually be found in her favorite chair with her feet propped up on an ottoman quietly typing on her laptop and sipping iced coffee while chaos reigns around her.