Tag Archives: spell check

Spot Check Your Writing

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Just finish a draft and want to check your writing? Here are some top tips for making sure everything is in tip-top shape!

  • Spell check. Sound basic? It is. Even so, as an editor I’ve gotten documents from people – writers who should know better – with simple errors I have to fix because they didn’t run a spell check. And as an editor, it really is annoying. Take that step.
  • Read aloud. This is another great way to catch mistakes. I’ve found things by doing this that I missed after reading something three times over.
  • Get another opinion. If you have a writer (or editor) friend you can run the piece by, it’s good practice to do so. Perhaps you can swap articles/chapters/posts on a regular basis to keep that workload even.
  • Walk away. Taking some time out to clear your head is a good thing. After a break, go back to your writing and re-read. Your fresh perspective will help.
  • Look it up. Not sure about how to word that sentence? Does something look off grammatically? Don’t just lament it and try to figure it out on your own…look it up. Every writer should have a copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style somewhere nearby. Seriously.

Got any tips to share? Leave one here in the comments section below!

Today’s Writing Tip: Using Your Spellcheck


Previously I’ve written about the drawbacks of the spellcheck device in Word, Yahoo or Gmail, or Outlook Express.

There are many disadvantages to relying on a spellcheck, starting with the fact that it doesn’t always recognize homonyms, and it will frequently miss a typo if the word is spelled correctly. For example, the grammatically incorrect sentence, “I went to give him a huge” was not flagged by my Outlook or in Word.

However, despite all its frailties, it’s critical to use a spellcheck for e-mails, articles, blogs, and, in particular, manuscripts. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? It’s like doing complicated math in your head instead of pushing a few buttons on a calculator. I may know how to do a square root, but if a machine can do it for me and I know that it will be accurate, I would be foolish not to take advantage of the wonders of the 21st century.

The spellcheck is nothing like a calculator because it doesn’t have a 100% accuracy rate if you pump in all the right numbers like a calculator. But spellcheck will recognize a large number of misspelled words and flag all kinds of grammatical problems.

If you are writing a manuscript and submitting it to an editor, the editor determines his or her price estimate for your project based on how many hours the project will take. And if it’s not spellchecked, it will take a lot longer to do than a manuscript that has been checked. Deliver a clean product.

Enable the automatic spell-checking on your e-mail program and always push F7 when you finish an article or manuscript. It really makes a difference.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor http://tinyurl.com/7wnk5se and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: http://tinyurl.com/6v65rgr