Spellcheck Isn’t Always Right for Real Writers


Microsoft Word’s Spellcheck has never been a perfect tool. Nor was it originally supposed to be, as far I’m aware.

Back in the day, it might mistake “hear” for “here,” or “its” for “it’s.” As such, it quickly became the bane of every high school teacher and college professor’s existence, as they had to spend extra time marking up papers with errors that would have – and should have – otherwise been caught.

“Little Timmy, you get an F+ for not proofreading your paper before turning it in. Again.”

“But I spellchecked it, Ms. D!”

“In that case, Spellcheck gets an F+ too.”

Perhaps enough English teachers complained to Microsoft to make it more savvy, because Spellcheck did get better after that. Though again, not perfect, it can now catch you from not putting an apostrophe in between that all-important “it” and “s” when necessary.

Typically. And, for something like Microsoft Word’s Spellcheck, “typically” should be more than acceptable. Unless we real writers want computers to take over our real writing jobs altogether.

Perhaps that’s Microsoft’s newest goal with its latest and supposedly greatest round of Word. But if so, it’s failing miserably. Because it’s not taking into consideration that, sometimes sentences need to get creative in order to get their point across.

Right now, even while I’m typing this out, I can already see an example of Microsoft being pretty darn pushy. That last sentence in that last paragraph is too wordy in Word’s opinion, so it underlined a part of it – not in red, because it’s not a spelling error. Nor in green, because it’s not a grammatical error.

But in… brown? I think it’s brown anyway. It’s hard to tell.

Regardless, the new and pushier Spellcheck is telling me that “in order to” is unnecessarily verbose. Rambling. Long-winded. I should cut it down to just a “to” so that the sentence reads:

Because it’s not taking into consideration that, sometimes, sentences need to get creative to get their point across.

Subtle difference, right? So why bother fighting the all-knowing Spellcheck?

How about because it’s not all-knowing.

Here’s something that Microsoft Word won’t tell you… The perfect sentence is one that gets its point across in an engaging and easily understandable manner. And since points are hardly static, with each and every one trying to convey its own concept, tone, style, slammers and/or subtleties, it’s necessary to keep a more or less open mind in this regard.

Sometimes, the perfect sentence might take a small amount of words. Sometimes it might require a longer string.

Sometimes it calls for absolute precision. Sometimes it begs for a little literary flair.

And, I’m sorry, but a good writer is going to know which one is which a whole lot better than some personality-less computer program.

That’s not meant to be disparaging to Microsoft Word's Spellcheck or any other computer program out there. But they are personality-less. They’re working off a set of rules. They’re rigid. And that’s not what writing or writers should be.

Oh, real writers know the rules. Most definitely. But they also know when to break them.

While Microsoft Word’s Spellcheck? In that regard, it just doesn’t cut it compared to a real writer.

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