Spellcheck, Both Friend and Foe

by Kristy Amburgey

I love spellcheck!  I rely on this system tool just as I would a dear friend.  Its seemingly endless wealth of knowledge gently points out my mistakes and goes ahead and solves my spelling and grammatical errors.

But as can be with friendships, there are challenges.  Spellcheck does not capture all the errors, misspellings, wording confusion and other writing issues.  Alas, this friendly system can become one of your biggest foes if you don’t follow up the spellcheck with a thorough review of your own.  If something is in all caps, spellcheck won’t identify spelling errors.  If a word is spelled correctly but misused, the system rarely gives you notice.  When words have more than one spelling option, multiple meanings, and other issues, our dear-old spellcheck just won’t give you a straight answer about them.

Here are a few tips to remain friendly with spellcheck and ensure it is working for you.

  • Use the all-caps effect when formatting your document: instead of turning on the caps lock, type out all words intended for caps first; once spellcheck has been able to review it, go back and use the text or font effects for all caps
  • Select the “Use Contextual Spelling” and “Automatic Grammar Checking” options in Microsoft Office: these options will further help you with solving wording and grammar confusion (check out all the proofing options in Microsoft Office to select the best option for you)
  • Watch for words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings: dual/duel, hear/here,principal/principle, threw/through, to/too/two
  • Know that some words sound somewhat similar but mean different things: accept/except, affect/effect, assure/ensure/insure, chose/choose, farther/further, lose/loose, than/then
  • Catch words that are spelled correctly but are often misused or interchanged for another word: collage/college, Embry/Emery/Emory, except/ expect, major/mayor, performed/preformed, personal/personnel, summary/summery, were/where
  • Pay special attention to verb tenses that can cause confusion: lead/led
  • Be aware that even just one letter off can completely change the meaning of a word: advance/advanced, appraise/apprise
  • Understand the difference between contractions, to combine two words, and words of possession: it’s (it is)/its, they’re (they are)/their/there, you’re (you are)/your

Admittedly, such a topic seems straightforward and nothing that is out of the ordinary.  The reality is that all of the above errors have at one time or another been found in resume reviews.  These errors occur, some of them (I am talking to you preformed) quite often.  Many of these glitches can be contributed to overly fast typing, distraction or just a common mistake.  Sometimes, you may need to do more to prevent these errors like implementing the use of grammar-based websites, dictionaries and other resources to learn about the words or subjects in question.  Remember, an employer is looking for any reason to eliminate your resume from further review.  Please don’t give a company an easily prevented grammar or spelling error as reason to toss your resume to the side.  Use your friend, spellcheck, to catch common errors.  But you also want to ensure that you thoroughly review your document for things that slip through the system.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

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  1. Prepare Your Resume for the Industry/Career Expo | Going Places with Embry-Riddle Career Services

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