Is Spelling Important?

Monday, December 15, 2008
I just did an interview with an editor, Cindy Eaton, at for WOW!, and you can see the full interview here. In the interview, she said one of the first things that a writer can do before turning work over to anyone is running her document through spell-check. When I read her answer, I thought how simple. But a lot of writers must not do this, or she wouldn't have mentioned it. (By the way, I just ran this through spell-check, so I hope it is okay!)

Also, we all know that spell-check will not catch all our mistakes. If we meant to write "meet," and we wrote "met," then it won't be caught because "met" is not spelled wrong. I have heard of a trick to catch these kinds of misspellings. Read your work backwards one sentence at a time. Then your brain will not fill in what you THINK you wrote.

Here is a fun little quiz that was sent to me by a writer friend. Take it and see how you do. It is about the 25 most commonly misspelled words. My writer friend got only 12 right, and she was surprised at herself. I have to admit that I haven't taken it yet. I'm scared! :) Here's the link:

So, is spelling important? Of course! It is one of the reasons editors will reject a manuscript before they even get past the first page. Do you have any tips for catching what spell-check doesn't?

Happy writing and spelling!


Anonymous said...

I braved it an took the test...16 out of 25. WOW! It makes you really stop and think. Very true about spell check. I tend to have someone else look over my work after spell check but before going any further. Sometimes a second pair of eyes will catch more mistakes. Great post.

Joanne said...

I agree with Ang, having a second pair of eyes look at the work to catch what you might not have. Also reading it aloud sometimes lets you "see" mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I scored 23 out of 25 (and I copy-edit for a living--yikes!).

What typically works for me in catching typos/wrong words is reading the entire thing aloud from a hard-copy of the manuscript. Somehow, when it's on the screen, I still manage to miss seeing things.

I've heard other people use software on their computer that will read the manuscript aloud to them so they can just listen to it.

Anonymous said...

I only got 13 out of 25. Hey I will try it again for sure to improve my essay writing skills.

Anonymous said...

I've read the interview and two things come up for me.

1- I would never, ever recommend an author use a copy proofreader to proof a novel. Authors- when you look for an editor and/or proofreader, look for someone who has put novels ON THE SHELVES at B & N- not for someone who is a career proofreader of web copy! Try the Editorial Freelancers Association.

2- The interviewee is right about this: it is nearly impossible to proof/edit your own writing.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Hi Allena,

Thank you for your concern, but CYPT has hundreds of editors who specialize in different areas. Some are novelists who only edit fiction, some are screenplay editors, etc. When you sign up they match you with an editor who will fulfill your specific needs, and all of them are very qualified. Thanks for looking out though!


Margo Dill said...

I have to second what Ang said. I was very impressed with all has to offer and the care and concern they take with each client. They are really worried about client satisfaction which is very important in this business.

Margo :)

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