Why Editors Will Always Be Superior to Spell Check Software
What is editing – and why is it so important?
As ewe mite no, English is a complexity language.
Wait..what? Let’s try that again:
As you might know, English is a complex language.
Editing is the process of reviewing a paper and fixing any spelling, grammar, and punctuation issues. It’s a difficult process that many writers dread – but it’s absolutely necessary.
When you write a rough draft of a paper, blog post, manuscript, or whatever you’re working on, spelling and grammar are probably the last things on your mind. As they should be. Your goal when drafting should be to get your thoughts on paper in a semi-organized manner.
But you still have to go back and fix your mistakes at some point. Otherwise, you may end up with a sentence that sounds as ridiculous as the first sentence in this blog. (Okay, it likely won’t be that egregious, but you get the point).
Spelling and Grammar Tools
There are tons of spelling and grammar-checking tools available today. Word processors come standard with spelling and grammar checks (here’s lookin’ at you annoying red squiggly line!). There are also a bunch of online resources that you can use. Some of my favorites are:
Microsoft Word and Google Docs also have pretty good built-in spelling and grammar checks, and I’ll admit, I rely on them quite a bit while writing. But these programs are not without their faults.
There are some things that spelling and grammar check software just can’t catch. Try as developers might, digital programs are not human – so they will never be quite trained enough to handle every spelling or grammar intricacy that comes up while you’re writing.
And that’s why human editors will always be superior to digital resources.
What Spelling and Grammar Checking Software WON’T Do For You
1. Discern between homophones
Ah homophones. There, their, they’re. Your and you’re. Its and it’s. Know and no. Right and write. The list goes on (and on, and on, and on!).
Why is it so hard for spell check to catch homophone mistakes? Because no matter which word you use, it is a real word. As long as you’ve spelled the wrong homophone correctly, chances are, spell check isn’t going to mark it as incorrect.
While grammar check software has gotten much better at deciphering sentences and figuring out when you’ve used the incorrect homophone, it’s not perfect. And it’s not always easy for you to catch when you proofread. But trust me, to an editor, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
2. Recognize complex scientific terms
Spell check software programs have a limited dictionary. It’s unfortunate, but there’s just no way that programmers can develop software that knows every single word in every single language. And one of the hardest languages for spell check programs seems to be Latin, the dead language that is alive and well in the scientific community.
So when you’re writing about your most recent discovery of a coronaviridae vaccine, you can almost guarantee that any spell check software is going to tell you that you misspelled coronaviridae. Of course, you didn’t, but Microsoft Word doesn’t know.
Or did you misspell it?
Nah, probably not. Microsoft Word just doesn’t know what you’re trying to say. Yeah, you’re good.
Until you’re reading your article, published for the world to see in the Journal of Immunology and realize that, just one time, you accidentally typed “coronavidirae.” And spell check didn’t catch it. And you didn’t realize that you’d actually misspelled it that one time. And now your typo is right there for everyone to see.
A human editor, on the other hand, especially one with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the scientific field, would be able to catch that mistake and fix it before it got published.
3. Proofread with 100% accuracy
You’re probably picking up on a common theme here. One of the major flaws of spelling and grammar checking software is that no software is perfect. That leaves the final editing to you. And, even if you have the best grammar in the world, you’re at a disadvantage when you edit your own papers.
You know what you’re trying to say, and your brain is a tricky little monster. Since you’re the one who wrote your paper, your brain will automatically fix any little spelling or grammar errors because you’re not looking at each word individually – you’re reading the paper as a whole.
A GREAT way to get around this is to have someone with limited foreknowledge of the topic proofread your paper.
For example, my mom and I started our master’s programs at the same time – I was pursuing my master of science in pharmaceutical nanotechnology, and she was pursuing her master of jurisprudence in healthcare law. Two different, but tangentially-related, subjects. This was fantastic because every time one of us wrote a paper, we had the other proofread and edit for grammar, spelling, conventions, and clarity.
Since we were on the outside looking into each other’s worlds, it worked wonderfully. And we both consistently scored well on our papers.
4. Catch when you leave out words
When you’re writing a rough draft of your paper, your goal is to get your thoughts down as quickly as possible. That means, inevitably, you’re going to leave out small words like “a,” “the,” or “of.” Or maybe you’ll use the wrong form of a word like “excite” instead of “excited” or “researches” instead of “researchers.”
And again, that tricky little brain of yours likely won’t catch these little slip-ups. It’ll fill in the missing word or letter and lead you to believe that your paper is error-free. Until you realize otherwise post-publication.
Out of all of the different spelling and grammar checking software I’ve used, I think I’ve seen one that could catch when I left out a word. And it wasn’t anywhere CLOSE to being perfect.
But to a human editor who doesn’t exactly know what you’re trying to say in a sentence, a missing “the” or an “-es” instead of “-ed” is blatantly obvious.
5. Tell you how your paper sounds to a real person
In my opinion, the biggest flaw shared by ALL spelling and grammar software is that none of them can tell you how your paper actually sounds. Voice is such an important component of writing. And whether your writing is designed to entertain, persuade, or inform, you need to make sure that your writing is enjoyable and comprehensible.
And editing software just can’t tell you if your paper sounds logical. It can’t tell you if your paper flows or if it sounds choppy. It can’t tell you when you write awkward sentences that completely convolute their meanings.
It can tell you that you spelled your words correctly and that you have (technically) correct grammar, but it can’t tell you a dang thing about how an actual person will read your paper.
And that’s why you need a human to look at your paper. That’s why a human editor will always be superior to a software program.
What Hiring a Human Editor WILL Do For You
1. Give you an outside set of eyes
A human editor can do all of the things that an editing software just can’t. He can discern between homophones. He can recognize complex scientific or legal terms and ensure they’re spelled correctly. He can get around the shortcomings associated with proofreading your own paper. He can catch when you leave out words. And he can tell you how your paper sounds to him – a real person.
A human editor – particularly one with a scientific background – can be the outside expert set of eyes you need to ensure that your paper is scientifically or legally accurate and error free. And that’s exactly who you get when you hire me to edit your manuscripts, blog posts, web pages, and more.
2. Save you time
Sometimes, editing and formatting can be like pulling teeth. You’ve spent hours and hours pouring your ideas and findings out onto the pages, but now you have to go back and make sure everything is perfect.
But you have another project that you’re working on.
And you have a grant that you have to write.
And you have a family to take care of.
Before you know it, a month has gone by, and you still haven’t gotten around to editing your paper so that it’s ready to submit to that journal. But you used government funding, so the publication clock is ticking. And you decide to just submit it. It can’t be that bad, right?
Well, you’re probably right that it’s not that bad, but if you’d hired an editor, it would be perfect. And you wouldn’t have had to spend any time editing your paper or worrying about editing your paper. It would have been out of your hands and off of your plate.
As a health science copywriter, I can give you that peace of mind. And save you lots of time.
3. Get your paper ready for publication faster
As a scientific professional, I’m sure you already know this, but one of the most annoying things about publishing papers is making sure that your paper follows the guidelines of the journal where you’re submitting your paper. And that it follows those guidelines perfectly. You know just as well as I do that if your paper is in the wrong format, it won’t even be looked at. It’ll get sent back to you, rejected, until you format it properly.
And every journal has a different format. A slightly different format, with just enough changes to be annoying. The margins, the font, the text size, the layout of graphs, tables and images, the citation style for your references. The list of components seems to be never ending.
Let me take that worry off your plate. By hiring me as your editor and formatter, I can take any paper, in any format, and transform it into a paper that is ready for submission to the journal of your choosing. That’s part of my job – I do it so you don’t have to.
4. Save you money
I’m not even going to try to hide it – this is a completely shameless plug. Editors can be expensive (trust me, I’m in the business so I know). But I’m not expensive. My manuscript editing and formatting services start at just $150. Pricing is based on the length of the manuscript and that’s it. I don’t charge by the hour. So whether it takes me two hours or two days to finish your paper, the price doesn’t change.
But by the time I’m finished, your manuscript is ready to submit, and I’ve saved you hundreds of dollars compared to other editors, or hours and hours of editing and formatting that you would have had to do yourself.
Let me help you – book your FREE 15-minute consultation today!