Rethink Your Relationship with Your Spell Checker
Its common for users to rely entirely on the in built proofreading capabilities of a word processor. Since the technology became standard in Microsofts Word in the 90’s countless cubicle dwellers and students have stopped carefully proofreading they’re own writing they have instead trust the automated spellcheck and grammar correcting features of their office product of choice to identify errors. We have carefully crafted this text to test the accuracy of these features, there are roughly 10 common grammatical mistakes in this paragraph. No matter good these tools perform there no replacement for carefully rereading you’re writing.
I agree and I think it’s time people rethink their relationship with their spell checker.
My friend Karen once told me a story about giving her husband feedback on a school paper. She noticed that he really liked semicolons. She confronted him on this and he said that Microsoft Word kept suggesting them and he kept accepting them. This is not a good situation.
Many writers rely on their spell checker to a fault. They see their spell checker as a tool to verify that a document is correct and ready to go with no effort on their part. If you want to verify that a document is correct, you need to reread it and look for errors. A great technique is to read the document backwards. Purdue’s Online Writing Lab has more tips like this.
If writers need to reread their documents, then what is the use of tools like After the Deadline? I look at After the Deadline as a tool that teaches users about writing. When asked what I do, I sometimes reply that I’m an English teacher with many thousands of students. No one gets the joke. It’s ok.
After the Deadline does a good job of finding its/it’s errors. It does not find all of them. I think this is OK. If a user checks their document and has a habit of misusing its/it’s, they’ll probably see a lot of errors. If this user is inquisitive, they may quick click explain. By doing this they’ll learn why the error is an error. By reading the feedback during the writing process, the lesson has the most potential to sink in.
Feedback is most valuable when it’s immediate. After the Deadline makes you a better writer through immediate feedback.