Posted by: nancycurteman | December 21, 2012

Use Computer Editing Tools With Caution

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BookEditing-1Use computer editing tools with caution. They are useful, but they don’t always work. Here are some problems I’ve encountered when using editing tools.

  •  Spell checkers can only detect if words are spelled correctly, not if they are used correctly. Consider this sentence that a spell checker will consider perfect: Aisle fined the too blew bawls.  (I’ll find the two blue balls).
  •  Spell checkers may substitute words for proper names. Mary Crobat may become Mary Crowbar or Mary Acrobat.
  • Spell checkers will not detect the improper use of homonyms like their and there, do and due.
  • Spell checkers may flag words as errors that are spelled correctly.
  • Spell checkers do not always offer useful spelling suggestions for some misspelled words (see above).
  • Grammar checkers fixate on correcting passive voice when in fact passive voice is sometimes useful.
Grammar checkers will sometimes flag good grammar as bad.
  • Grammar checkers will perfect the mechanics in dialog that is meant to be uneducated or colloquial or dialect.

While word processing tools are helpful, you must use them with caution. After all, a computer can only do so much. You as the author have the insight and skill to do the best editing.

More tips:

Polish Your Writing: Cut the Riffraff

Developmental Editing: How to do it

How to Edit Your Mystery Novel


  1. Good examples, NC. I always edit my work, then run spell checker, then proofread again.


  2. I have found that the BEST computer tool for editing (for me, at least) is the SEARCH capability of my word processor. I can look for “was” and “it” and other gotcha words, and then make a decision about using them (or not).


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