Editing tip #247: Do not rely on the spell check tools in writing programs.
As much as I love those red squiggly lines, Spell Check won’t pick up incorrect words if they are correctly spelled. For example, it will miss ‘though’ if the word should be ‘through’. So, how do I find those elusive mistakes?
1. Print—I have no idea why, but it’s far easier to spot those spelling errors when the text is printed on paper.
2. Read out loud—Reading my text out loud slows down the tendency to scan my work, which is the main reason we miss those mistakes. Reading to someone else is even more effective.
3. Cover the text—Many use a ruler for this purpose to keep their eye from jumping ahead in the text. A scrap of paper works just fine.
4. Critique Partner—It’s amazing how we can still miss those mistakes. Second opinions are invaluable.
5. Press Send—The surest way to find mistakes is to send off your work to someone you want to impress, for example, an agent or a publisher.
How do you find spelling errors? How important do you think it is to find those little mistakes?