“But it can’t have spelling mistakes! I ran spell check!” I hear this quite often. While running spell check on your documents is very important, it certainly is not a foolproof means of making sure that your documents are error free.
Spell check will let you know if there is a group of letters in your document that doesn’t actually form a word. If you type “fjdklfjdlf” into a document, spell check will catch that this isn’t an actual word. However, if you send an email to your mom asking her to buy you a new “pear of pants,” spell check won’t let you know that you should have used pair instead of pear.
No matter how careful you are with spell check, there is no substitute for (a) proofreading your work yourself and (b) having someone else proof it for you. There’s no substitute for a common sense check. There are too many similar words in a language to ever be able rely 100% on spell check to get rid of all of your spelling errors.
I’m a professional writer and business communications trainer, and I know from personal experience that you can’t always trust spell check. One of my more entertaining typos that spell check didn’t catch occurred in an article I wrote a few weeks ago about wedding anniversary gifts.
This is what I wrote: with love and infection
This is what I meant: with love and affection
Fortunately, I proofed my work before sending it to the client for publication. I laughed when I caught the error, because it is kind of funny and ironic, but I don’t think my client would have been very entertained.
If the article had gone to the client with this mistake, I could very well have lost a project. Don’t use spell check as a crutch. Don’t take a chance on losing business or sounding ignorant just because you won’t take the time to proofread your work. Just remember there’s no substitute for common cents. Oops, sense! Darn that spell check!