January 29, 2018

Spelling and grammar checkers- Can you trust them blindly?

a person using grammar checker app in workplace

Often asked in grammar…

“’Your vs you’re”

‘Its vs It’s”

‘Affect vs effect”

Which one is grammatically correct? Well, both of them are!

In business, grammar and spelling mistakes cost money and affect your branding. What might sound right in your head could be gibberish when written down. To make life easier for you as a writer, there are several applications and tools such as spelling and grammar checkers.

To get the most value out of such tools, you need to know their features, advantages and limitations. As no tool is foolproof, here are some tips to keep in mind while running your text through these checkers.

Don’t accept the suggestions blindly

When using spelling and grammar checkers, do you review the suggested corrections? Or do you blindly accept, believing the tool’s word to be the Gospel Truth?

By not reviewing suggestions given by the spelling and grammar checker, you are letting the tool decide what goes into your content piece. As a writer, you must ensure that you agree with the suggestions mentioned and only then accept them.

Context changes everything

Typically, spelling and grammar checkers are only programmed to match the words in your content piece to the ones in its repository. They do not verify whether you have used them in the right place, in the right order or the right context. For example, let’s pick the most common mistake: using ‘their’ or ‘there’. A spell check would not highlight where you might have used the wrong one. You would have to read your writing thoroughly, to notice contextual mistakes that the tool may have missed.

Be consistent!

Consistency is the DNA of mastery. – Robin S. Sharma Click To Tweet

You can use different yet correct spellings of the same words in the same document, without the tool highlighting such inconsistencies. For example, ‘authorize’ and ‘authorise’ in the same content piece wouldn’t necessarily attract an error. This, however, could be seen as a significant inconsistency in your work.

For technical writers especially, you must have a project-specific content style guide that states which version is acceptable. As a freelance writer, you must get these questions answered by your client.

Are long sentences always incorrect?

Remember that spelling and grammar checkers are programmed software tools. They use preset rules and algorithms to compare your text with what it believes to be correct English. For instance, these tools tend to highlight long sentences for correction. While in some cases, a long sentence can be shortened and made more readable, there are times when a well-constructed and grammatically correct sentence could be used, despite what the tool might highlight.

Remember, it’s not a substitute for your grammar!

Spelling and grammar checkers can be excellent for detecting minor typos such as repeated words, missing words or double spaces. They can help you maintain high-quality writing standards. However, these tools should complement your writing, editing, and proofreading processes, not replace it. Click here to read more about proofreading tips.

They can only assist and improve your writing process. However, your understanding of language and grammar should dictate the final word. It is the only way to maintain high writing standards, retain your style and stay relevant in this competitive industry.