Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Do you use spell check or brain check?

Nowadays with the latest features in technology it has gotten easier to just hit a button and have the computer spell check a document. But what about those words that sound the same but have different meaning or contextual errors, words that are spelled correctly; however, do not depict the meaning of the sentence. See the examples below:

Sound the same but have different meaning (homonyms):
*Breaks and brakes
*Too and two
*Bite and byte

Contextual errors:*'Asses' but you mean to write 'assets'
*Inconvenient and incontinence
*Than and then
*Effect and affect

Spelling errors in a document will reflect unprofessionalism and turn the reader off; contextual errors have the same impact and depending on how the word is used, could be offensive. So the next time you're drafting a document, use the spell check feature for evident errors but also use your brain and look for the uncommon errors. Here are two ways you can use your 'brain check:'

  1. Print the document and proofread it word by word, line by line. Then shift focus on something else for a few minutes and come back to the document. You will be surprised when you find an additional error or two.
  2. Get a second pair of eyes to review the document. They always say two heads are better than one, in this case four eyes are better than two. Because everyone's 'brain check' operates in different capacities, the second opinion may find other errors, like grammar or punctuation, which will help make the document more appropriate for public reading.

It is a good practice to not heavily rely on the computer's spell check; a missed mistake could hinder the company's reputation and yours as the office professional. Use your internalized 'brain check' to double check the document.

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