Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing Wednesday---Spellcheck Isn't Proofreading

I cod right an entree book about whey I hot Spellcheck.

Spellcheck said that was a perfectly good sentence. Why? Because all the words, though used incorrectly, were spelled properly.

And that, my friends, is why I hate Spellcheck.

Just today I saw the phrase "defiantly confirming" writtten by professionals.

I once had a student turn in a paper stating that someday he'd like to join a "blowing team". Wonder what the tryouts are like.

Sure, Spellcheck can be handy, but it's not enough. Proofreading, preferably by someone besides you, is best. Why? Because if you have written, re-written and read a passage several times, your brain automatically tells you that it says what you meant for it to say. Fresh eyes will be able to pick out the omitted or misused words.

Spellcheck also doesn't catch inconsistencies in your story. If a secondary character is Celeste the first time she's mentioned and then becomes Cecile the next time, Spellcheck won't notice. But your readers might. 

Please don't go through all my blog posts and books to find all my editing mistakes. I know I'm not perfect. My point is simply that writing is hard work and it's often tedious, but those tasks are necessary for a good finished product.

What about the rest of you? What are some Spellcheck clunkers that you've seen?


  1. I am a horrible speller. If spell check weren't around I wouldn't write a word for other adults to read, it's one of my best friends. But that said, it does have its limitations for sure. Reading my writing aloud helps, I'll catch mistakes that my mind passed right over as you pointed out it would. Of course for us spanko writers its hard to find someone competent enough to do the job of editing that you trust with your secret. My sister helps a great deal, but it's not a perfect situation.

  2. Spell checker can't catch the nuances of the English language, that's true, but it can catch some things, which makes it useful as a first screening device. What I think is laughable is the grammar checker. It is worthless. Worse than worthless -- if you used it, it would ADD mistakes.

  3. Oh, my heroes are always messaging my heroines even if I want them to massage them - wait did I get that right? That's why I have a CP!!


  4. I agree with Cara that grammar checker is worthless.

    I honestly didn't know that anyone uses spellchecker any more. Didn't that go out of fashion about ten years ago? (I am not being facetious.)

    Here is a performance of a spellchecker reading that just might make you cry. It's called "The The Impotence of Proofreading". *giggle*

  5. Spell check is bad. I think it has actually made my spelling worse because now I second guess myself where before I knew HOW TO SPELL correctly.

    Proofreading your own stuff is very difficult. Try to get my hubby to proof but that doesn't always work either. For the consistency of names I try to use the Find/Replace at the end of a story.

  6. I use grammar and spellchecker all the time. It's the only way I can make myself understood (OK, just a little bit), by the native English speakers.
    But I remember writing a blogpost and consistently writing 'but' where I meant 'butt'.

  7. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that spell check has brought out strong feelings...since I have strong feelings about it. One thing I should point out about my general dislike for this tool is that I used to teach and my students almost always thought that spellcheck was the same as proofreading and I would end up grading papers that said "I must read the statue before my trail". Ugh.

  8. The use of the word complement for compliment is a clunker. I like spell check, but I still proof read everything a write several times.

  9. Sadly, I have always been a horrible speller, and spell check is a great tool for me. But I only use it as a part of proofreading. I think my worst typo (that spell check had no problem with) was writing "spayed" when I meant to write "sprayed". Ouch!

    1. Ouch is right! Did that make it all the way to publication?

      The nice thing about ebooks is that you can always go back and edit if necessary.

  10. "From an operation standpoint, it was a major shit." Should have been major "shift". Although everyone reading the transcript agreed that my mistake was quite accurate. :)
    I proof documents almost daily...and NEVER from the computer. It's easier to find errors if you have a hard copy in front of you...

    1. heehee. That made me chuckle. Good point about the hard copy. You can also send documents to your kindle and read that way and I find that helpful too. Just changing things up a little bit makes the mistakes easier to find.

  11. I am an awful speller. If I am writing my brain will not shift allowing me to spell correctly. However if someone asks me how to spell a word, my brain can make that shift!! I need spell check some. However grammar check?????? What a joke.

  12. I love spell check!!! Grammar check can be handy, too, providing you're aware of grammar rules, or that thing could trip you up.

    I've found that having the 'puter read my work to me is invaluable when it comes to picking up mistakes etc. I know lots of people like to print and read the hard copy, but my attention span isn't that good. I'm a great listener, though, so this method works excellently for me.

    However, that said, my amazing eagle-eyes CPs usually catch whatever slips through--I have that attention span handicap, after all :)

    Great post, Celeste!

    Hugs x


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