Writers' Treasure Editing and Proof Reading Proofreading: Catching Contextual Spelling Errors

Proofreading: Catching Contextual Spelling Errors

Before I start, check out my guest post on Daily Writing Tips: To Outline or Not to Outline, That is the Question. If you just came from there, welcome! Read Creative Writing 101, my beginner’s guide to creative writing. Or just read on…

We all know how annoying it is to catch typos. It’s just not cool. If you make one or two of them, you might get away without anyone pointing it out. If you make loads of them, your credibility suffers.

But this article is not about making typos. It’s about catching contextual typing errors, and if that name sounds too technical for you, don’t fear yet. That’s only a name assigned by Microsoft for a new function in Word 2007.

What does it do?

It catches common spelling mistakes which don’t have their spelling wrong. Yeah… sounds complicated… but the gist of it is that if you write “loose” instead of “lose”, it’ll underline the mistake with a blue underline and have suggestions to correct it. It also works for other common mistakes.

For example, you type:

“We had to loose the war.”

If you type this in Word 2007 with the function enabled, on comes the underline. It’s actually very useful, only not reliable because it sometimes calls up for wrong changes. Many times it actually shows up when there’s nothing wrong with the sentence. That’s annoying.

So to solve the problem, you must know all the common contextual spelling and typing mistakes and when proof reading, be ready to manually correct them. Examples include: “Your” and “You’re”, “There”, “Their” and “They’re”, “Its” and “It’s” and so on. Word cannot be relied upon to call out these mistakes, because it sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t. It’s better to correct them manually.

Four Reasons Why You Must Manually Correct Contextual Spelling Mistakes

  1. It shows that you are familiar with the English language. That’s a big plus. Earlier I said that making many typos hampers your credibility. This one does the opposite: it strengthens it. Of course, ordinary readers don’t care either way, but if you avoid these mistakes you won’t subconsciously confuse them and you won’t make grammarians angry. Win-win.
  2. It increases the chance of your not making the mistakes next time. It’s complex, but studies have proved, if you make mistakes one time, you will not make these mistakes once again because of the brain memorizing certain facts. What to do, and what not to do. So if you make these mistakes one time, you must correct them manually first by proof reading and editing. This way you know what mistakes you make when writing. That’s another good thing to know. And then, the next time you write something and then proof read it, bravo! Fewer mistakes found of the same form. If you keep doing the checks, you’ll notice that as time goes on, your mistakes become fewer, fewer and then none at all.
  3. It makes you learn more grammar. Grammar is important for writing. Some people just don’t like having to go through the grammar books once again. But if you proof read and learn one thing at a time, you’ll find automatically that you have learnt a topic of grammar.
  4. It makes your writing more pleasurable to read. Eh? How? Easy. Grammar actually increases readability if you use it in the right way. By avoiding the common mistakes which plague all writers, your writing stands out from the pack. More readers! Writing which was good had some readers in the past. These days? Not so much. If you want your writing to be read in this period, you’re going to have to make it great. Even more, you must make it spectacular.

What about Typing Errors that Don’t Have Anything to Do with Context?

You mean those ones where you actually want to type “fat”, but type “rat”? These are typing mistakes, not spelling mistakes. For that, you just have to improve your typing… just kidding. Even for that, you must proof read. What if you don’t? Nothing but bad results will occur then. These type of mistakes are absolutely the worst in my opinion, because they confuse the readers the most. Even a spell checker misses them. Essential manual proof reading check!

What Did I Miss?

There are loads of other things to cover in proof reading and editing, loads more in spelling and grammar, and a gigantic list of articles to be covered in the whole topic of creative writing. So stay tuned, but before you go, leave a comment and tell me what I missed. Or how many typos this article had. Or praise. Or criticism. Or suggestions. Whatever, have your say in the comments section below.

17 thoughts on “Proofreading: Catching Contextual Spelling Errors”

  1. Hey man, was just running through the internet looking for some info and came to your site. I am impressed by the information that you gave on this blog. It shows how good you understand this topic. I bookmrked this page, I will come back for more reading. You, my buddy, ROCK!

    1. Thanks for the praise! Do look around here, there are plenty more posts which you may like. For starters, go to Creative Writing 101 series.

      (P.S. You got a typo. It should be ‘bookmarked’ not ‘bookmrked’. Couldn’t resist. Thanks once again for commenting).

  2. If you use the wrong word, but spell the wrong word correctly, spell check will never know. Unfortunately many people’s spelling errors are correctly spelled but wrong common words, which people confuse with other words that sound the same but are spelled differently.

    1. Just what I meant! It’s foolhardy to just rely on stupid old spell-check and grammar check (don’t ask me why I hate grammar check). To give an example, when I was writing a recent post, I wrote this:

      “Want to learn how to master these skills? Don’t worry – I’ve got an article coming up on Wednesday that will teach you how to mater them.”

      The correct word is “master,” of course. But stupid old spell-check never realized that ‘mater’ should never be there. And the embarrassing thing was that I published the post. On a writing site too…! Oh the horror. Thankfully no one noticed it, and I quickly corrected it.

      Just shows you what can happen when you become too complacent!

      (Thanks for the excellent comment, I apologize for my pointless ramblings. :-))


  3. I started wondering if My spouse and i ought to use this write-up on a net web page, Let me link it back again for your website though. If, perhaps this is a predicament please make me conscious and that i will definately remove it instantly. I admire the valuable aid and assistance you provide inside your articles. I’ll absolutely book mark your article and get my colleagues check-up here routinely. We’re reasonably positive they’ll find out plenty of interesting info right here when compared to just about everyone else .Thanks a lot with regards to composing this info.

    1. You can link to it, but please don’t copy it. All content is copyrighted Writers’ Treasure, and as such, all rights are automatically reserved. I respectfully request that if you have put the content anywhere, please remove it.

      Thanks for the good word, makes me want to write even more informative articles! 🙂

  4. There are certain reasons why it is still better to manually check errors on our work rather than using tools. It’s for personal growth also.

  5. Question, what if I want my character to show a certain… slang or even doesn’t pronounce his words correctly? They come up as contextual spelling errors, and they are spelled incorrectly in my dialogue for this very reason.

    My character doesn’t pronounce the word ‘you’ correctly. He says it more like ‘yous.’
    “Yous like my hair,” he said.
    They are going to flag me every time I have my character saying this word.
    Is that okay in creative or even fictional writing? I don’t want someone saying… you’ve got an error here, here, and here.
    What’s your opinion?

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