Whatever you’ve written and sent out into the world will reflect on YOU, not the imaginary person inside your computer. Therefore, it’s a wise idea to proofread carefully, and to check up on both auto-correct and spell check.
Sometimes these tools make corrections or alert you to something that really does need to be fixed – like my tendency to add an “l” in the middle of words and to spell “the” backwards.
Don't be too trusting...
Other times, auto-correct changes words incorrectly, and spell-check tells you a word is wrong when it’s actually correct. If you aren’t sure, just go to google and type in the word in question. You’ll quickly learn if the word you used was “real” and if it means what you intended to say.
If you follow those tools without questioning, you’re apt to “say” something you didn’t intend to say.
I was reminded of this recently when reading comments on a blog post. The comment said “Thanks for writing such an inciteful post.”
Given the subject matter of the post in question, I’m sure the commenter meant to say “insightful” rather than “inciteful.”
The two words sound just alike, but the meanings are definitely different.
We might expect to see the word incite in a phrase such as “His inciteful rhetoric led to a riot.”
Insightful Adjective: Showing or having insight; perceptive.
I’d expect to see this used in response to a thoughtful, kind, or perhaps soothing statement.
Using the wrong word in this case could really cause confusion!
- Were you sincere?
- Were you being sarcastic?
- What did you mean?
Then there are the errors that the tools usually won't correct.
Think about writing “and” when you meant “an” – or doing the opposite. In most cases it would turn the sentence to nonsense.
“I’ll be there in and hour.” “Pat an Joe will be there too.” Huh???
A similar kind of confusion happens when you drop other letters.
For instance, what if you write to a seller and ask something like “Are you planning to sell you house in the near future?” And think what happens when you write “do” but meant “don’t.” You just wrote the opposite of what you meant.
"Wrong" words act like stop signs.
The reader will hopefully figure out what you meant, but in the meantime, the flow of your message will have been interrupted. Your message might have been streaming straight to your reader’s brain, but now he or she is stuck on the words.
The best thing that can happen when you write is that your thoughts/ideas will flow directly from your brain, through your fingertips, into words that instantly translate back into the thoughts or ideas and go directly through the reader's eyes to his or her brain.
The words become merely a delivery vehicle for the meaning. (Of course it sometimes takes a bit of effort and editing on your part to make that happen!)
The bottom line: You can't proofread too much. And even if you read what you wrote a dozen times, now and then an error will slip through. So don't beat yourself up when it happens.
emailing Image courtesy of fantasista at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Confusion courtesy of start miles @ freedigitalphotos.net