Spelling Checkers Don’t Work

Spelling Checker

Use your word processor’s spelling checker for suggestions ONLY!

I used to teach business writing classes for a national seminar company.  High level executives and their secretaries got a good laugh when I’d put this little ditty up on the screen at the front of the room.  I’d ask them to read it aloud in unison.

Owed To A Spell Checker

I have a spelling checker
It came with my PC

It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks eye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it.
You sure reel glad two no

Its vary polished in it’s weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing.
It freeze yew lodes of thymes.

It helps me right awl stiles two reeds,
And aides me when aye rime.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud.

And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.

And now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,

Their are know faults with in my cite.
Of none eye am a wear.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed to be a joule.

The checker poured oar every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

That’s why aye brake in two averse
By righting wants two pleas.

Sow now ewe sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear for pea seas!

— Poet of Poet Tree knot known

As to your spelling checker:

Try it, don’t trust it.

Personal Editing Tips from Debra Marrs

Highlighted PagesFinished with your article?  Wait!  Don’t send yet. Take a look at these tips for checking the fine print.

1.  Read your writing with fresh eyes.

  • Read your writing from a different point of view. Change seats.
  • Take your writing outside in the sun and read it there.
  • Sit in your car with your writing; read it there.
  • Take your writing to the porch or the living room couch; read it there.

2.  Read your writing aloud. Whenever you stumble, tick the words or line with a yellow highlighter.  Rework these passages when you return to your writing desk.

3.  Allow your writing to grow cold. Leave it alone.  Don’t read it for at least a week, when possible.  Then, return to it with fresh eyes and hearing.

4.  Write tight to write right. On a hard copy (printout) highlight all the “ditch words,” all the little words that lay in the ditch between the big words.  Words such as to, of, it, for, up, out, this, that, which, from, with, and, in, on, how, but, however, …  See how you might rewrite the sentences deleting 10-30% of the ditch words.  (It can be done!)

5.  Use your word processing software to insert a page break after each paragraph, giving each paragraph (or section of dialogue) its own page.  Read these smaller sections, paying attention to whether every word, every sentence adds to the whole.  Is there action or forward movement in every paragraph?  Is something happening in each section?  Cut down on long passages of expository writing when you can.

6.  Use your word processor to re-format your writing into columns to represent various publishing formats (two or three columns in normal view for magazines, two columns in landscape view for trade paperback).  Change margins to fully justified.  Notice the balance between white space and long sections of text.  Edit to allow for consistent paragraph length.

7.  Read your manuscript backwards, looking at each word individually for possible errors in usage and spelling.

8.  Create a “window marker” by cutting a hole in a plain piece of paper the width of two lines of text.  Use it as a pull-down marker to review your text two lines at a time.

9.  Ask an expert when in doubt. Don’t mar your reputation in your specialized field by minor mistakes in grammar, usage, punctuation, and syntax.  Your article, newsletter, or ebook represents YOUImpress them with your tips; wow them with your prose.