Saturday, May 5, 2012

Today's Writing Tip Is on Using Your Spellcheck

Previously I've written about the drawbacks of the spellcheck device in Word, Yahoo or Gmail, or Outlook Express. There are many disadvantages to relying on a spellcheck, starting with the fact that it doesn't always recognize homonyms, and it will frequently miss a typo if the word is spelled correctly. For example, the grammatically incorrect sentence, "I went to give him a huge" was not flagged by my Outlook or in Word.

However, despite all its frailties, it's critical to use a spellcheck for e-mails, articles, and, in particular, manuscripts. Why wouldn't you take advantage of that? It's like doing complicated math in your head instead of pushing a few buttons on a calculator. I may know how to do a square root, but if a machine can do it for me and I know that it will be accurate, I would be foolish not to take advantage of the wonders of the 21st century.

The spellcheck is nothing like a calculator because it doesn’t have a 100% accuracy rate if you pump in all the right numbers like a calculator. But spellcheck will recognize a large number of misspelled words and flag all kinds of grammatical problems.

If you are writing a manuscript and submitting it to an editor, the editor determines his or her price estimate for your project based on how many hours the project will take. And if it's not spellchecked, it will take a lot longer to do than a manuscript that has been checked. Deliver a clean product. Enable the automatic spell-checking on your e-mail program and always push F7 when you finish an article or manuscript. It really makes a difference.

Sigrid Macdonald
Author of Be Your Own Editor

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