Monday, November 11, 2013

Fire Breathing Toaster: Error-Free Writing

by Bill Adler

You have friends and colleagues like this, I’m sure. People you know who either don’t turn on spell check, ignore spell check, or who think that bad spelling and typos look cool.

Spell check makes life easier. Spell check makes giving and receiving written communication a more pleasant experience. Really, truly, it’s easier on the brain when the person who’s sending the email or who has written the report takes few moments to pay attention to spell check.

Spell check doesn't catch everything. (Though Google’s spell check for Documents is getting better and better all the time; it’s able to pick out the difference between “you” and “your,” for example, the bane of my spelling existence.)

For those times when I need to double and triple check what I’ve written I perform a simple, but highly effective task: I read out loud what I've written. Every time I’ve done that, I've spotted mistakes. Just as it’s certain that what I’ve written has typos and grammatical improbabilities, it’s a sure thing that reading out loud will catch many of those mistakes.

Here’s the scary part: I don’t always read what I’ve written out loud. It’s tiring. Sometimes I’m doing something else with my mouth, like drinking coffee or letting my mouth rest. I should read out loud. I should proof everything by simply engaging my vocal chords, because when I do the outcome is good. I wonder what I’m not catching when I don’t read out loud. Maybe I shouldn't wonder too much.


Bill Adler is a writer. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys:Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets,", "Outwitting Squirrels,", and a mess of other books. He tweets at @billadler. His Fire Breathing Toaster column is published on Monday and his Tech Column is published on Tuesday.

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