After the Deadline

The Spellchecker Poem Shootout

Have you ever seen the spell checker poem? It’s a funny poem meant to highlight the shortcomings of computer assisted writing technology. Here it is:

The Spelling Chequer (or poet tree without mist takes)

Eye have a spelling chequer

It came with my pea sea

It plainly marks four my revue

Miss steaks eye cannot see

Each thyme when I have struct the quays

Eye weight four it two say

If watt eye rote is wrong or rite

It shows me strait a weigh

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore too late

And eye can put the error rite

Eye really fined it grate

I’ve run this poem threw it

I’m sure your policed to no

It’s letter perfect in its weigh

My chequer tolled me sew

– Author Unknown

Oh a whim I decided to run this through Microsoft Office, Firefox, and After the Deadline. Care to see how well they do?

Firefox vs. The Spell Checker Poem

Firefox does the worst of the three. The suggestion for the word Chequer is “Chewer” and struct is not flagged to the right word. This is understandable because Firefox’s spellchecker does not look at the surrounding words when providing suggestions.


Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac vs. The Spell Checker Poem

Here are the results for Microsoft Word. I build all my technology on an ancient Powerbook so this is the best I have. Here Microsoft Word 2004 suggests the word Chaucer for Chequer. And don’t let the fancy green underlining fool you, the grammar checker is useless here too. The recommendation for “Eye have” is “Eye has”. I think a mist ache is my favorite as the grammar checker suggests mists ache. So it is a toss up here who is doing worse Firefox or Microsoft Word.

I’d like to be fair though. The newest version of Microsoft Word includes a contextual spellchecker that is supposed to catch the kind of errors contained in this poem.


After the Deadline vs. The Spell Checker Poem

Two of the claim to fame features in After the Deadline are contextual spellchecking and real word misuse detection. I don’t claim perfection in my real word misuse detection but this poem is a good example of how it works. See for yourself:


All the flagged words actually have the correct word as the first suggestion. I’m asked all the time why does After the Deadline matter? We have Microsoft Office and our browser has spell check, right?

And now, for a shameless plug…

After the Deadline is a software service that adds grammar, style, and spell checking to web applications. You can embed it or download a plugin for common applications. A plugin for WordPress is available at and you can try it at

2 Responses

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  1. […] style checker was comparable to similar commercial software.  My favorite feature though was the misused word detection.  Outside of the latest MS Word–no one else really had […]

  2. Dan Erickson said, on December 3, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Well Raffi,
    You may not remember me, but I was Joe Nievelt’s roommate at Michigan Tech, and I graduated Dondero the year before you. Anyway, in searching for a poetic primer for oft-misused parlance, yours was the first result returned! I couldn’t leave without saying hello.
    By the way – love the poem!

    –Dan Erickson

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