Using Technology to Edit: spell check and grammar check
Computers revolutionized the way that we edit writing. Here are some useful tools to make editing easier and faster.
Spell checkers: Always use spell check. Do understand that spell check cannot find misspellings that are actual words. Spell check should mark “tge” as an error, but if you typed “accept” when you meant “except,” spell check will not help you. Sometimes spellcheck won't recognize names or technical terms. Double check these spellings from your sources. You might also want to turn off autocorrect if there are words that you frequently see incorrectly corrected (like defiantly, when you meant definitely)
Grammar checkers: Grammar checkers are sometimes correct, sometimes not. If you use a grammar checker and disagree with a suggested correction, use other resources such as dictionaries, grammar handbooks, or websites like Purdue OWL to determine what is correct. If you find that you often make a certain kind of mistake, it’s worthwhile to study up on the topic and perhaps keep an editing checklist to help you remember to check for that type of error. Whatever you do, don’t start randomly changing things just to make the grammar marks go away!
Bonus Technology Tools: Ctrl+F and screen readers
Sometimes it helps to hear your words aloud. Using a screen reader can do that for you, and it will definitely read a mistake as a mistake, without correcting it. Many word processing programs have a screen reader built in. There are also apps you can purchase, and some schools provide applications to students for free.
Find and Replace: If you know that you frequently make the same spelling or punctuation error, use the Find and Replace function in your word processor (in most, pressing and holding the “CTRL” key and then simultaneous pressing the “F” key will get you to the Find and Replace function). For example, if you know that you often type “though” instead of “through,” you can search for all instances of “though” and replace them, one by one, with “through,” checking each item to be sure you are making the right choice.
Using a Checklist
Your instructors may give you checklists they want you to follow. Or, their assignments themselves can be turned into checklists. Or, you can make and adapt your own checklists. Whatever you do, you want to make sure you follow a process. Don't just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Feel free to use and adapt these checklist.
Checklist for Academic Essays
- Appropriate headings and page numbering are used
- Margins are correct: 1 inch all around
- Spacing is set to double, with no extra line spaces between headings and title, title and body, or between paragraphs
- Within the essay, parenthetical citations are used (Lastname 13).
- A works cited page is included when appropriate, with all necessary information.
Source and Prompt Requirements
- Required sources are used in the essay
- Sources are all cited
- Sources are quoted and given attribution as necessary
- The thesis addresses the topic as described in the prompt
- The essay meets length requirement
Organization and Structure
- Introduction creates interest and provides background
- Thesis addresses the prompt
- Paragraphs have topic sentences
- Paragraphs cite relevant evidence
- Paragraphs are focused and developed
- Paragraphs are connected to the thesis
- Paragraph order is deliberate and effective
- Conclusion provides an ending with a So What? and/or Now What?
Mechanics: Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar, Syntax
- Did I run spell-check?
- Did I check homonyms? (Example: to, too, and two)
- Did I look up difficult words?
- Did I proofread aloud to catch obvious errors?
- Are all sentences complete (subject & verb, complete thought)?
- Have I checked for the specific elements of grammar that my instructor wanted me to check for?
Style and Control
- Is my tone appropriate for the assignment?
- Have I used my authentic voice as much as the assignment allows?
- Does my paper flow when read aloud?
- Do I need to be more concise?
- Do I need to be more clear?
- Do I have necessary transitions?