Proofreading is a tedious task and one that seems less and less important nowadays with the miracle of modern day spellcheckers. Just click on spellcheck and let the machine do it for you if it doesn’t show you as you are typing. The only problem is that the spellcheck is often wrong and without that little red or blue line we all assume it is right.
Although most of us do, you should never rely solely on a computer for your spelling, here are some of the reasons.
Proper Noun Problems
One of the most common problems with spellcheck is that it recognizes only a limited number of proper nouns, abbreviations, technical terms and words from foreign languages. So, even when you use spellcheck, you still have to make sure that those words are spelled correctly.
Spellcheckers locate misspelled words and correct them. Hopefully. At least that’s what they’re supposed to do. But if a spellchecker auto-corrects a word to the wrong word, this is bad news.
For example, if you’re writing about “espresso” and mistakenly spell it “expresso,” your spellchecker might give you a helping hand and make it into “express.” It might turn your “definitely” into “defiantly,” which could definitely confuse your readers.
Making Spellcheck Dumber
If you consistently misspell a word, you may actually train your spellchecker so that it thinks these words are correctly spelt. This is a natural function of most spellcheckers so that they can learn to accept proper names and alternate spellings.
For example, if you write “color” as “colour,” spellcheck may correct it the first time or two (if it’s an American version). But as you consistently write it that way, it will eventually come to accept the fact and stop correcting you.
The danger is that if you keep misspelling a certain word, spellcheck may follow your lead and misspell it as well.
Human vs. Computers
Especially frustrating to writers is the fact that spellcheck will sometimes mark something as incorrect that simply isn’t. Who knows what’s going on in your computer’s algorithmic brain? I know that this annoys me, especially as my spelling isn’t all that it should be, at the best of times.
This leads to frustration as you look at the word or phrase, puzzle over it, and go on a quest to figure out how you’re breaking the rules of English. All the while, you could’ve trusted your gut and you’d be paragraphs down the page by now.
Spellcheck Checks Spelling – Only
Spellcheck actually does only one thing, it checks spelling. It can’t do all of your proofreading for you because it operates under a limited set of rules. Grammar check is the same way. It can’t handle complex sentences and can’t understand context, both of which are important.
Ideally you should spellcheck and also proofread as well as having someone else proofread your work, with the volume of content, content marketing produces this can however be difficult but remember, professional writers don’t do all of their own proofreading. It’s important to get as many eyes as possible on your copy especially if it is an importance piece. Someone will catch what someone else misses as a general rule of thumb.