Answer: Very important.
Spelling words correctly is very important for professional writers. Spelling mistakes distract from the message you are trying to convey to your reader.
“No problem!” You say. “I have a spell checker on my word processor. I won’t be making any mistakes.”
Of course, if you have a spell checker, then you should use it every single time that you write. Just don’t count on it.
You need to be aware that even if you use a spell checker your writing might still contain spelling errors.
There are three reasons why spell checkers don’t always work:
- Some words aren’t in the spell checker.
- Spell checkers don’t always catch a word that is being misused.
- You can add improperly spelled words to the dictionary of most spell checkers.
Often, words that aren’t in common use or words that are specific to a particular field or discipline aren’t found in a spell checker.
For this reason, I always suggest that writers make note of any words that the spell checker didn’t find and look them up in the dictionary. There are several excellent online dictionaries available, here are two of them:
Although many spell checkers are programmed to look for commonly misused words, remember that spell checkers are not fully reliable. Too many writers have trusted a spell checker to catch all of their mistakes–only to be embarrassed later.
Also, often there is just a single letter of difference between two words. A spell checker won’t catch an error if the misspelling is actually another word.
Examples include: The and then, her and here, bus and busy.
All of these spelling mistakes are actual words and most spell checkers will not catch them.
What spelling mistakes has your spell checker missed lately? Share some examples in the comments. (You get extra points if your examples are funny…)