Quick Quote

Can’t I just use my computer’s spell-checker?

Too many students make the mistake of thinking they can rely on their computer spell-checker for all their proofreading and editing needs. This is a serious mistake. A spell-checker will suggest silly corrections for technical words it doesn’t recognise, and will fail to catch many other mistakes that would be howlingly obvious to a professional editor. At their best spell-checkers can help you with about 60% of basic spelling errors, but they can’t read context and so won’t pick up on words that are spelt correctly but used incorrectly, or catch mistakes involving homonyms and compounds such as the following:

  • there/their/they’re
  • its/it’s
  • whose/who’s
  • your/you’re
  • who/whom
  • to/too/two
  • affect/effect
  • formerly/formally
  • passed/past
  • allude/elude
  • current/currant
  • allowed/aloud
  • assent/ascent
  • border/boarder
  • accept/except
  • devise/device
  • defuse/diffuse 
  • practise/practice
  • advice/advise
  • principal/principle
  • imminent/immanent
  • addition/edition
  • further/farther
  • plain/plane
  • born/borne
  • continual/continuous
  • imply/infer
  • threw/through
  • versus/verses
  • cited/sited/sighted
  • personal/personnel
  • capital/capitol
  • hear/here
  • loath/loathe
  • stationary/stationery
  • complement/compliment
  • of course/of coarse
  • whether/weather
  • chose/choose
  • all ready/already
  • all together/altogether
  • descent/dissent/decent
  • disperse/disburse
  • forth/fourth
  • elicit/illicit
  • allot/a lot
  • chose/choose
  • access/excess
  • desperate/disparate
  • council/counsel

Given that the English language contains thousands of homonyms and compounds, this list could be extended indefinitely. There is little doubt that your examiners will spot these kinds of mistakes, and that they will adversely affect your essay marks. Are you confident that you will avoid them? 

Consider the following simple sentences: 

  • The principle reason for using an academic proofreader is to assure that your not making any spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors. 
  • Poor English is sure to negatively effect your grade so its always a good idea to have your work edited by a professional proofreader. 
  • Since many students fail to consult the marking criterion used by their examiner’s, they loose valuable points that could make a real difference to their grades. 

There are three mistakes in each of these sentences, none of which would be picked up by a computer spell-checker. Did you spot them? If not, it’s safe to say you’re in need of a professional proofreading service.