Importance of Distrusting your Tools

There are tools to help you produce documents. These tools are varied and a lot of them center around grammar and spell checking. Most text editing programs come with spell check of some sort in order to keep you from sending misspelled words out into the world. Of course, these spell checkers have contributed to a profusion of homonymic misspellings (their/there/they’re, four/for) and most grammar checkers won’t be able to fix it if you use the wrong word (definitely/defiantly). This illustrates the importance of proofreading, and especially the importance of having someone else do the proofreading for you, but that’s another blog post.

Another important reason to not fully depend on the tools is because they’re not fully dependable. The image here is a screen capture from a Microsoft Word document I’m working on. Notice how “descritpion” has the squiggly red underline? It didn’t have that five minutes ago. That particular word has been misspelled through three drafts of this document because, for some reason, MS Word didn’t recognize it as misspelled.

misspelling

Why? I have no idea. While the program was still refusing to acknowledge that it was misspelled, I checked the custom dictionary and did some Google searches—nothing to be had there. I tried forcing the spell check to check the word—nope. Finally, I deleted the space between it and the word prior to it, then reinserted it and [poof], it’s misspelled according to MS Word. Obviously, the program was barfing on this one word for some reason.

I did not catch this. It took my boss noting that I should spell check my documents before submitting them (and me head-scratching because, well, I do) before the problem was noted. The lesson here is that there is no substitute for the Mark I Eyeball. Use it, and don’t look like a doofus.

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