I’ve Got Spell Check… I Don’t Need a Proofreader

We all have them. We often rely on them because our typing skills are rarely that good. Fast, but not accurate. And spell check will sort it out, sometimes changing the word for us, and sometimes just flagging it up for review. Marvellous, isn’t it? I admit to be much the same as most of the world. I rely on my spell check…a lot.

But it can be your worst enemy. It will not, for example, tell you that you have put ‘form’ instead of ‘from’. Because it’s spelled right. It won’t help you decide on ‘advice’ or ‘advise’, ‘practise’ or ‘practice’, ‘site’ or ‘sight’, ‘licence’ or ‘license’.

Just contemplate a situation where what you have written is the first impression. Like the clothes you choose to wear for an interview. You want it to be spot on. Or a really important essay or project. The last thing you need is someone distracted by your errors. Or worse still, laughing at your mistakes. It is so very easy to see them in other people’s work, not so easy when you’re caught up in your own message.

To illustrate, I thought I’d write a little poem.

Ewe want to right a lovely peace,
On just how grate you are,
On how you’re skills are second to nun,
Your the best won out they’re by car.

Sew hear you are, your praise is dune,
And you have done a cheque.
After all, watt moor is needed?
Their bond to bee in pressed.

Spiel check has dun it’s joke,
Your happy as can bee,
Not a single errors is fund hear,
Four anyone too sea.

And here it is corrected:

You want to write a lovely piece,
On just how great you are,
On how your skills are second to none,
You’re the best one out there by far.

So here you are, your prose is done,
And you have done a check.
After all, what more is needed?
They’re bound to be impressed.

Spell check has done its job,
You’re happy as can be,
Not a single error is found here,
For anyone to see.

OK, it’s a bit extreme, but the point is not one of those words is spelt incorrectly. So technically, spell check wouldn’t pick them up. They are getting smarter, no question, but they aren’t human, and will never get all the nuances of our language.

And words that sound the same that mean something completely different. Here are some great examples of words that easily get confused:

  • Tack and Tact
  • Peek, Peak and Pique
  • Insure and Ensure
  • Affect and Effect
  • Flout and Flaunt
  • Horde and Hoard
  • Pour and Pore
  • Rein and Reign
  • Founder and Flounder
  • Further and Farther
  • Less and Fewer

Will your spell check sort them out?

That’s where a proofreader is invaluable. They will correct spelling and look for inconsistent spellings (i.e., names, places, etc.); check grammar, punctuation and hyphenation; check fonts, headings, and page numbers are correct and layout is consistent, including titles, paragraph indents and spacing; and check word order and sense.

No spell check can do that.