By Sarah Binning

Hello. My name is Sarah [“Hi, Sarah.”] and I have chronic misspelling disorder.

The facts of life are simple: typos happen. As I stated earlier this week, my atrocious spelling is a problem I battle every day.

Sometimes it seems that no matter how much effort I put into proofreading, I still misspell words and misuse grammar. I’ll be the first to admit it’s embarrassing. People always seem to remember when you spell something incorrectly (even if it was a minor slip of the finger on a keyboard). Even Grammar Girl expresses the same embarrassment and stress about missing one itsy-bitsy typo.

I’ve challenged myself to work on my spelling and I’ve complied a list of helpful spell checking tools. May the misspellers of the world unite under these tips and work toward a stronger, more accurately spelled tomorrow.

1. Never rely solely your word processor’s spell check. Now, I’m not saying you should turn off spell check. It is extremely helpful and can catch mistakes. However, it is not the brightest crayon in the box. Microsoft Word will not always catch if you type the incorrect form of a word , like “their/there/they’re” or “to/too/two” or “your/you’re.”

2. Don’t rely on auto-correct to save your butt. Sometimes I really, really, really love auto-correct. I accidently type “th” instead of “the” and Word automatically adds the “e” for me. Yet, auto correct also fixes words that I habitually misspell: like definitely, sandal, etc. Consider this for a moment: If Word is automatically correcting these words, are YOU personally learning how to spell them? No, you’re not. What are you going to do when you have to use a program other than Word and there is no auto-correct feature? Take the time to learn how to spell these words.

If you do use auto-correct, try to notice when the tiny lightening bolt flashes, signifying an auto-correct was made. Examine how auto-correct fixed the word and learn where you’re going wrong with your spelling.

3. Utilize Google. We all have those days when we’re typing along and our brain totally farts out. We cannot figure out how to spell (fill-in-the-blank). We try spell check, but the spelling is so incorrectly Word has no idea what we’re trying to say. Google, on the other hand, does. Type the word into the search bar and Google kindly suggests: “Did you mean (fill-in-the-blank)?” Why yes Google, that IS what I meant! Thank you!”

4. Read your work aloud. Many times, when we read on the screen, our brain automatically corrects what we’re seeing, without us ever noticing. We KNOW we meant to type, so our brain reads what we think we typed. When you read aloud, you force yourself to study each word individually. Your ears will catch what your eyes miss.

5. Utilize free online resources and free downloads. I am addicted to dictionary.com. As Copy Chief for Southeast Ohio, this site was my best friend (right after my AP and SEO Stylebooks, of course). Sometimes I read words and they just didn’t look or sound correct. Typing them into dictionary.com helps me a) learn if the words are spelled correctly and b) learn what the words mean and if the writer used them correctly.

I also work on a MacBook. One of my favorite features on my Mac is the widget screen. I can download all sorts of free widgets, like a dictionary (that I use frequently because it’s faster and doesn’t require an Internet connection to function). I also downloaded a “word of the day” feature and a Scrabble “two-letter” word of the day to help me improve my Scrabble skills. Playing word games also helps improve my spelling. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog for more fun, interactive games that help me battle my chronic misspelling disorder.

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