Run the spell checker but dont rely on it

You know that the spell checker on your computer is only checking each word against its internal dictionaries.

• If the word is in the dictionary, the spell checker will accept it, regardless of whether it's the right word in the right place. (If you've ever typed "now" when you meant "not" or "our" when you meant "out," you know what I mean.)

• If the word is not in the dictionary, the spell checker will reject it, even if it's the right word in the right place. (On my own computer, of course, I've added my name to the dictionary; but if you try it on yours, the spell checker will probably want to turn Redish into "reddish" or "radish.")

Read this sentence out loud: Eye kin knot sea ewe bee four to daze meeting.

Spell checkers would say it is fine, but, of course, it isn't.

Blindly accepting the spell checker's suggestions can be very embarrassing. Even if you agree with the spell checker that you spelled a word

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wrong, don't just click on the spell checker's first suggestion. Look at all the suggestions carefully to find the one you meant to write.

It can be equally embarrassing to assume that the spell checker caught all the errors in your web writing. A good hint is to know your own typical typing problems. What do you typically misspell? What typically happens when you are typing quickly? I'm a fast typist, and I often end up with "the" when I meant to type "they" or "them." The spell checker doesn't catch those errors, so I have to be particularly diligent in looking for them. The spell checker doesn't catch punctuation errors, so if you sometimes put an apostrophe in a plural where it doesn't belong, you have to watch out for those stray apostrophes in your own writing.

(Similarly, you can run the grammar checker - but don't rely on it. Use it to show you when you've written a passive sentence or an overly long sentence. But don't blindly follow its advice. It can't read your meaning, and its algorithms too often lead to erroneous reports.)

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