Use Spellcheckers and “Replace All” With Care

Don’t ever trust a spellchecker despite how valuable it can be.

  • Many correctly spelled words are not the ones you intended.  If possible, delete common words from the dictionary that are unlikely to be correct in context, such as pubic (public), untied (United).
  • Some spellcheckers will automatically “fix” words the spellchecker identifies as wrong.  One example is tortious (correctly spelled but not in the dictionary) which is automatically changed to “tortuous” by some versions of the Word spellchecker.  Another example is “sua sponte” which has been autocorrected to “sea sponge” in some cases.  Unless your eyes are directly focused on the word at the moment it changes, you may never know that auto-correct has fixed it (and you).

Here is “A Little Poem Regarding Computer Spell Checkers…” for those who would be amused and a film clip of a comic’s routine on proofreading.

Never use the “Replace All” tool without at least replacing a number of the items one at a time.  One publisher that can be nameless wanted to fix all citations to Cal without a period (as in Cal App) and replaced all throughout the manuscript without limiting the replacement to capital Cal space.  As a result, the entire manuscript was sprinkled with “Cal.ifornia,” “practical.” “cal.culated,” and so on.  Problems created with Replace All may be virtually impossible to locate.