Quick Tip:
Let Your Spellchecker Help – Not Control – Your Writing

One of the most convenient tools a good word processor has is the spellchecker. This tool helps you make your copy look more professional and polished …IF you use it correctly.

Spellcheckers pick out typos or words that are definitely misspelled, like "quck" for quick. But they do not necessarily mark as incorrect words that are similar in spelling to the one you mean to use.

For example, you might want to say, "Buy this product today and you'll …" But instead you write, "By this product today and you'll …" Your spellchecker won't catch that error. Just as it won't catch it if you use "right," "rite," or "write" incorrectly.

The only way to make sure you catch all your typos or errors is to print out your copy and proofread it carefully.

If you're not sure of how to spell a word, use a dictionary. And don't let the old wisecrack "How can I look up the word if I don't how to spell it?" stop you. There are several inexpensive dictionaries that were created for this very purpose. "The Oxford Essential Spelling Dictionary" (with 50,000 entries), for example, costs only $5.99. Keep one near your computer …and use it whenever you're not sure.

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Published: September 20, 2004

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