Writers have come to rely on spell checkers and grammar checkers to catch every error. But no matter how many times a novel is gone over, certain kinds of mistakes can be easily overlooked. Before submitting a manuscript, writers can perform a careful read-through to pinpoint these difficult-to-spot errors that may slip past the spell checker and grammar checker.
Spell Checkers Won’t Mark Use of the Wrong Word
One of the most common spelling errors that goes undetected by spell checkers is use of the wrong word. A simple typo, such as typing “truck” instead of “trunk,” will not be flagged by the spell checker because it is a legitimate word, spelled correctly. Still, such an error will completely change the meaning of a sentence, and must be corrected.
Another example of wrong word usage often overlooked by spell checkers is the use of very similar words that have different meanings. Misplaced homonyms, such as “through” instead of “threw” or “two” instead of “to,” are common errors of this type. Spell checkers will approve any word that is actually a word, with no consideration as to whether that word is in context with the surrounding text. Only by reading through the manuscript can the author discover and correct these kinds of errors.
Spell Checkers Can’t Find Added or Omitted Words
Spell checkers are not able to indicate omitted words. It is very easy to leave a word out of a sentence completely. Often, when editing an existing passage, “the,” “but,” “or” and other small words are accidentally left out. In the same way, unwanted words and sentences can accidently be left in. The only way to find these errors is to read through the manuscript, where they can be easily spotted.
Grammar Selection is a Matter of Choice
A grammar checker offers the writer the most logical choices, but it has no capacity for creativity. Grammar checkers can’t think so they can’t make judgment calls or decisions about style. Special regional considerations may call for different punctuation, especially in dialogue. That’s why a writer must not rely totally on the grammar checker to get everything right. Some grammar checkers are designed to detect potential problems with style. However, the artist may be expressing creativity.
While spell checkers and grammar checkers are wonderful writing tools, it is still important for a writer to go through and proofread the manuscript for small errors before sending it off to a publisher.