Spell Checkers, Where Art Thou?

For my job, I often use Word (Winword) for Windows for my editing and writing so naturally, Word’s Spell Checker is used quite a bit. Frankly, I use both the spell checker and grammar check simultaneously. Even though I’m a decent speller, I still check my spelling but my primary focus is on grammar.

Getting back to the idea of correctly spelling words, how well does Words’ Spell Checker work? If you don’t mind getting becoming familiar to its quirkiness, it seems to do a fine job. What I mean is, I’ve found that Microsoft’s software forces you to get used to it instead of the software trying to figure out your needs. Working in corporate America, you’re often limited with what software you will use so I’m resigned to this software for a large portion of my work.

Once you regularly use spell checker when editing a document in Word or composing an email in Microsoft Outlook, not having this option elsewhere provides some discomfort. For example, when using Word Pad or Notepad for Windows, there’s no feature to check to ensure you properly spelled all words. If you use either of these applications for various things from time to time, the fact that these are sans the spell check feature might deter you from using these applications moving forward.

Spell Checker

Spell Checker

At work, I use Microsoft Instant Communicator (IC) to quickly communicate with colleagues. In many corporate environments over the years, instant online chat has replaced phone calls or brief emails. If you find yourself engaged in a conversation through IM, you quickly realize there’s no feature for checking your spelling. I know there’s email protocol and etiquette on how to write and compose an email but does that etiquette apply to IM? Will your corporate brand take a hit if you don’t properly capitalize words or struggle with misspelling through IC?  

Another area is with SharePoint – there are many forms and text boxes used for various purposes that don’t have that feature. If you’re spending hours in Word and then 10 minutes reviewing or editing something in SharePoint, you’ll quickly miss that feature – especially if you have lengthy text to add.

 Moving on to the Internet, how well do they deal with spelling? I guess it depends. If you’re online and want to provide input about a recent restaurant or hotel service, you may be provided a text box with limited features and typically, checking for misspelled words is not an option. For the most part, this is a non-issue as you’re only composing a few sentences and you are counting on spelling to be a non-issue.  Although having this feature certainly wouldn’t hurt. Why not include it? For more sophisticated users, one could compose comments in Word and then paste into an online comment text box. Using this alternative might help ensure your message is grammatically correct with correct spelling.

A positive about online spelling is brought by Google – they’ve instituted an informal spell checker during the search process – intelligently guessing and providing some logical options on what you mean to search on based on what you typed. For example, if I type ‘spel chekker,’ it will ask me if I meant spell checker. If I type ‘daminsh raturn’ in the Google search field – Google is intelligent enough to ask me if I meant ‘diminish return?’  It’s interesting that Microsoft has been at this game a lot longer than Google and yet Google seems to be more user friendly and intuitive when it comes to figuring out what you meant by what you typed.

Having an iPhone, the spell check feature works well when composing emails or texts. It just knows a lot of times what you’re trying to type. If I’m away from Microsoft for a while and get used to Google, Apple and other effective spell checking applications, the pain and frustration confronts me when I’m using Word again. I’m just not happy.

As I said earlier, working in a Microsoft shop, I’ll have to stick with Word most of the time even though it has its faults. Having said that, I’m always looking for ways to streamline word processing and when it’s found, I’ll be more inclined to bypass what Microsoft provides.

What do you think?

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