The Pushy Editor

By Alyssa Gauss

Photo by Freephotos.com

           I think there are probably some people out there that believe that spell-check and grammar-check are a writer’s best friend.  And, for some intents and purposes, I would have to agree with them.  There are just some things that the human eye cannot pick up on.  Just as with many other innovations, however, there just might be a point where this technology has gone too far… and we might have reached it.

            This technology has gone from being a helpful back-up for the watchful eye of an editor to being the primary editing tool of many writers.  It is true that this tool is getting extraordinarily competent, but, just as the naked eye can miss mistakes that spell-check catches, the spell-check cannot always comprehend mistakes that the human brain can, no matter how advanced it gets.  It’s getting to the point of being a recipe for lazy writers.

            There’s also the problem with encroachment on a writer’s creativity.  According to “The Editing and Rewriting Process” on grammar.ccc.commnet.edu, word processors are becoming increasingly more able to detect improper grammar and sentence structures, including, but not limited to, run-ons and tense issues.  Again, for the most part, this advancement is helpful and perhaps even necessary.  But in a lot of cases, the sentences being corrected are not run-ons, but merely long sentences.  The major concern here is that this feature is promoting the cookie cutter sentence structure, but one size really doesn’t fit all in the world of journalism and writing, in general.

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18 Responses to The Pushy Editor

  1. Kay Gilbert says:

    I was a little disappointed in your article, because I thought you were going to tell me how great spell check is, but you are right about us becoming to dependant on it.

  2. marisa2430 says:

    By: Marisa A. Gutierrez

    I thought this article was truly insightful merely because it is the truth! The ugly truth should I say. Unfortunately, I can honestly admit that I am one of those writers as you mentioned in your article that is extremely dependent on the, ‘spell-check’ feature and the ‘spelling and grammar’ tool on Microsoft Word. In my early days of writing in high school the tools were not as advanced then as they are today and I was sort of obligated by my instructors to have another peer editor and have them sign off on my paper. Maybe I should begin to do that again. Overall, there was great insight within this article.

  3. tyleraustin334 says:

    Spell check is great! Although, you are right Alyssa! Sometimes when I’m writing a little too close to my deadline I don’t take the time to spell check myself and let Word do all the work. And when I get my paper back I notice all those tiny little edits that I should have caught, but didn’t take the time to check. And apparently the new editions of Word can completely reword your sentences for you to make them grammatically correct or shortened. We definitely rely on spell check way too often as writers and we should be getting back down to the roots of writing and check it ourselves!

  4. victoriarobillard88 says:

    I agree how spell check is kind of a let down in some areas and and is not a fix all. However, have you ever noticed that for some sentences or phrases that you intend, spell check will tag it anyway? I’ve run into this many times and I end up questioning as to whether I am right or spell check is right. Usually I assume I am right.

  5. khriztah says:

    I agree. It’s hard to break away from our old friends spell and grammar check, but we need to learn new strategies to keep our writing in check. I find it super helpful to print out my piece and edit it the old fashion way, with a red pen. It’s so helpful to have it in front of you in a hardcopy. I find that I skip over misspellings when I’m looking at a screen. Great post.

  6. jldruck says:

    I think a lot of people become reliant on it which is in part, terrible. After taking Editing and Design this semester, I realized how terrible my grammar is at times. I always thought I was good at it. Spell check is not very reliable other than looking for spelling and the occasional fragment.

    Unless you’re proof-reading, you will miss most mistakes.

    • kacieyoshidajournalism says:

      I blame spell check on my poor spelling habits. We’ve grown up with auto-correct and spell check. I hardly ever know when I’m misspelling something. I’ve noticed that when I take notes on paper, I mess up a lot. Spelling should be really enforced more in school.

  7. mitchsallen says:

    Spell check can be a great tool for the first draft but after that it becomes the work of the writer/editor to make other necessary adjustments. For instance, reading through your paper and you realize you used the wrong word (there, their, they’re), spell check would never pick up on this. At the end of the day editing must be done by the human eye.

  8. rachel1892 says:

    I totally agree with this post! I too have noticed that I am now lazy because there is spell check. I have even now forgotten how to spell some basic words when I use the old school pen and paper! Society including myself have gotten lazier and lazier in everything. Want an internship or a job? Apply online at home in your pajamas. Want to learn how to spell things properly? Just spell check, don’t even bother to try looking it up in that big Webster’s dictionary (does anyone even buy those anymore?). It is completely sad and I try not to use spell check but unfortunately it’s faster, and most college students like myself are procrastinators.

  9. coolnaenaes says:

    Okay so I have to write reports for work for past events. Over and over again through spell check I get that red highlight and it says “passive voice.” But frankly I see no other way to write it, any suggestions?

  10. jnguyen115 says:

    I think spell check is great! However, I’ve been careful to not allow myself to become dependent on it. I don’t think that a computer can ever 100% correct all our errors. Many of the times that Microsoft Word catches my grammar errors, I find that it’s being flagged incorrectly. I think there is nothing more reliable than having an English or Writing teacher edit your work.

  11. vvega89 says:

    As greatful as I am for spell check I agree with this article because as technology advances we depend more on computers and less in our own abilities. Most modern versions of spell check re-word sentances and writers go along with it although without checking if it conveys the right message.

  12. dannyduran says:

    Spell check has come a long way. I sometimes depend on this technology, when I am in a hurry, to weed out all of my mistakes. I have even gotten into the habit of not capitalizing the beginning of sentences or even certain words because I know the the computer will change it for me automatically. Technology is definitely making our lives easier and more efficient which does look lazy at times.

  13. caitlinarmstrong says:

    Sometimes spell check doesn’t help me at all because I could possibly be using the wrong word in the wrong context. For example there have many numerous times where I have written something like, “Their is my dog.” Wrong “there”. Spellcheck does not pick up on these types of mistakes. I also hate it the most when I get those green squiggly lines under my writing when there is a fragment or something they are saying is wrong. I don’t know what they mean and or how I should fix my sentence. I usually just end up rewriting the whole sentence or just being lazy and leaving it as is. Either way, spellcheck is great, but I believe that proof reading your work and giving it to others to read is really the best way to go about things.

  14. kacieyoshidajournalism says:

    Myself, I tend to live by spell check. It’s all fine and dandy until I start handwriting something and I can’t spell to save my life. It’s depressing to know that this is the future. Children will use spell check and never properly learn to spell important words.

  15. cnaslund says:

    hmm. Fun thing I do when I am checking my work is, I will read it out loud in a different voice. So that way my brain has a harder time of ignoring what I am saying. It sounds weird, but it works, try it.

  16. mbalandra says:

    I could not agree with you more on this spell check post. As all of us move on in our respective fields, it is important that we learn to edit things ourselves rather than relying on computer software that does not have the capacity to understand human writing techniques. There are so many times when I am writing that Word catches something but upon further review, I decide that it is wrong and I should stick with my original sentence.

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