Using spell check or grammar check is tricky for writers. We cannot possibly catch every last error on our own, so relying on the spell checker or the grammar checker is almost a necessity. However, spell check and grammar check do not catch everything and sometimes create a few problems. Here are a few mistakes we make with spell check and grammar check.
- Using the “find” and “replace” features to change misspellings and case-sensitive spellings in one full sweep with the “change all” feature. Don’t do that at all. Patiently check each instance found before replacing.
- Trusting spell check and grammar check to correct or autocorrect your text.
- Not running spell check after you’ve completed your document.
- Relying on spell check’s spelling suggestions or flags for words it says are not words but are words.
- Relying too heavily on grammar check’s flags on dialogue and other forms of sentence structure (quotations, questions) important to your work.
Here are a few hacks to assist you in using both tools wisely.
- Keep a running list of words spell check calls out (using the red squiggly lines) as you write. Go online or use your dictionary to verify the spelling. Sometimes spell check says words are spelled incorrectly or that they are not words.
- Check your document to make sure proper nouns are all spelled the same.
- Check your homonyms (example: they’re, their, there) manually. Spell check and grammar check do not always get them right.
- One of your misused words will not come up as misspelled with spell check. When in doubt, check your own use of a word by using the dictionary.
- Change all words with apostrophes manually. Use the “find” feature to locate them, but change them one-by-one.
- Spell check and grammar are unforgiving with slang and colloquialisms. They will suggest edits to dialogue written intentionally.
While these hacks won’t make you an expert at using spell and grammar check, they will assist you in cleaning up your copy (text) with as few problems as possible.