Proofeading: a lost art? A waste of time now that there’s spell check? No – I say! Proofreading essays (reports, papers, any written communication) is important.
First, let me say that as an English major, I have a hard time using text lingo, the small “i,” no capitals, and other language shortcuts for quick communication. I will adjust, but for now I will spell things out. (OMG!) I do proofread my emails, professional communication always and personal most times, because I want to be clear about what I say. I may think I have the most interesting story to tell, but if no one can understand it, what good is the telling?
I have found that humans make the best proofreaders. Spell check is a useful tool, absolutely, but it can be dangerous if used on its own. I have read essays from people I thought were pirates based on their writing. They had sentences everywhere talking about “packing me bags for an adventure,” and “going to me friends house.” Thought they didn’t add the words “Aaaarrrrr matey,” I read the sentence with those words tacked on the end and pictured the writer sitting, typing along with a parrot on his shoulder. Why do they talk like pirates (when they are not – I checked the application)? It’s because they relied on spell check to catch their errors.
Spell check skips “pirate talk” because me is a word. Sure you’re supposed to type in “my” but spell check doesn’t care. In another essay a student thought they wrote about how their mom “puts in many hours at work.” But instead, she wrote that her mom “put sin…“!! I don’t know about you, but when I read the words, mom, sin and work in the same sentence, I do wonder what the subject of the essay is going to be!
Another issue I’ve noticed in my own writing is the auto-correct feature. Have you ever had a word automatically corrected to another word that isn’t a thing like what you were trying to write? Imagine writing to your friend, Heike, and it changes her name to Heifer. Not good! I wrote something to my sister about my mother having ice cream anemia! What is that?
So, ask people who you trust and who write well to take a look at your essays and proofread them. And if you want one final check, ask a friend to read your essay aloud to you. That way you can hear if you’re talking like a pirate!
Good writing to you!
Zinjenzo – The College (And Scholarship!) Application Guru