It’s a rare writer who has never used spell checkers when working on their novel, short story, poem, academic papers, reports, documents, or Facebook posts. Grammar and spell check tools simplify the lives of millions of people by enabling them to create an effective piece of writing free of typos and other types of mechanical errors. Moreover, spell checkers often help users hone in on their writing style, structure, and content rather than spelling. But there is much more to spell checking software than meets the eye. Today’s guide will provide you with a brief overview of the main benefits, uses, and types of checkers and help you start utilizing them in a more effective way.
Why Use Spell Checks?
Every time you get down to writing you expect to produce an effective, informative, and quality piece of writing providing value or enjoyment to your readers. But it’s highly unlikely that a poorly written piece of work replete with typos and misspelled words will receive many accolades from readers. So, you need to make sure to eliminate the pesky errors from your work before you introduce it to the world. That is where spell checkers may come in handy. These tools are ideal for spotting and correcting misspelled words and other types of mistakes in your writing. What’s more, the majority of modern spell checks can offer sound spelling and grammar suggestions, alert you to potential errors, and provide detailed explanation as to why they have corrected this or that mistake.
It also goes without saying that by enabling your spell check you save yourself much bother and valuable time. Your checker will scan the entire document within several seconds and quickly suggest possible improvements or corrections should it identify any problems.
What Spell Check to Choose?
The software market is teeming with spell checking tools that promise to help you put together an impressive paper within the shortest possible time. But not all tools prove to be capable of delivering on their promises. So, you would be well-advised to stick with time tested and widely acclaimed options that have proved their worth and effectiveness.
One such option is Grammarly, an English language AL-powered writing tool which offers grammar checking, spelling checking, and plagiarism detection services. Millions of users opt for Grammarly software whenever they need to check their text for duplicate content or improve on the grammar, structure, or format of their work.
Another tool worth paying attention to is Spellcheck.net. It is a free grammar and spell checking utility based on the LanguageTool application. It provides English spelling and grammar checkers to correct your mistakes. For dozens of other (non-English) languages (which can be selected using the appropriate link above the text form), our tool provides spell checking functionality without a grammar check.
Note that some programs are available free of charge, like Spellcheck.net, while others, like Grammarly, have a free basic package but may require you to pay a specified subscription fee to avail yourself of a full range of its features.
Though spell checkers can be indispensable for finding and fixing mistyped words, they may prove not that effective in identifying possible variations in spelling, dialects, etc. So, if you’re using the spell checker whose database hasn’t been updated for quite some time, it may deem some words incorrect or improper.
Both writing experts and psychologists also warn users against relying too heavily on spell checking software. It’s not that they are useless or harmful. Rather, they can impede your performance by tricking you into what they refer to as ‘cognitive ease’ or complacency. Experts emphasize that the continued use of spell checks make writers falsely believe that all their mistakes and inconsistencies will always be corrected in a timely manner every time you’re making them. Therefore, over time more people run the risk of becoming less proficient proofreaders and becoming prone to making sloppy mistakes in writing.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Spell Checker
To derive maximum benefit from using your spell checker, take note of some simple rules.
First, make sure to update your programs to ensure you’re using the latest available version of your software. It’s good to know that your checker utilizes the cutting-edge algorithms, updated custom dictionary, and the most recent statistical methods to find grammar and spelling mistakes in your documents.
It is also worth taking the trouble to add more words to the default dictionary of your checker. No matter how authoritative and top-notch your software is, there will always be the lexical units that are not in your dictionary database, e.g. geographical names, borrowings, author neologisms, to name a few. So, it’s a good idea to manually replenish the dictionary to avoid possible mistakes and wrong corrections in the future.
Last, but not least, be sure to always allow for manually proofreading and editing your work once you’re finished writing. With the grammatical safety net that comes in the form of your spell checker, you may become less vigilant and over time stop looking out for spelling and grammar mistakes all together. To retain your spelling acumen and remain an effective writer, take care to invest enough time and effort in proofreading your text.
(c) Jenny Krasinski