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Is Spelling Still Important for a Writer?

What is your reaction when you find a misspelling in a book or on a website? Do you wonder about the author’s professionalism and commitment to producing good content? I do. I have to admit that it bothers me, and I wonder about the author’s credibility.

As a writer, you want to effectively communicate your thoughts to your readers. Standardized spelling helps readers understand what is written. It also aids in communication and ensures clarity. Your readers will form their opinions of you based on the content and the presentation – errors may lead them to form a poor opinion.

As Mignon Fogarty, aka “Grammar Girl,” told USA Today:

We still evaluate people based on how we present ourselves in writing. It suggests how detail-oriented you are, how rushed, how much care you put into your writing.

Here are five tips for proofreading your content before hitting publish:

  1. Use your spell check software but don’t rely on it – Computer spell check software is great, but sometimes it doesn’t alert you to a misspelled word. Also, you might be spelling a word correctly, but it isn’t the word that you want to use at that time.
  2. Use the dictionary – It may seem old fashioned but dictionaries are still relevant, and there are some great ones for online use, such as Merriam-Webster.
  3. Take a break – Put your writing aside and leave it alone for a while. Come back in a few hours (or days) and read it again with fresh eyes. You might want to print it out to reread it.
  4. Read it out loud – Hearing your words, rather than seeing them, may help in finding errors.
  5. Ask someone else to read it – A second set of eyes may see errors that you did not.

Typo vs. Misspelling

Often typographical errors (typos) are not really spelling mistakes, and vice versa. Some common typos are related to poor typing skills not poor spelling, such as:

  • letters are doubled, or more frequently double letters tripled, such as “betwween” and “betweeen”
  • letters are singled, such as “betwen”
  • keys are transposed, so “the” becomes “teh”

15 Most Misspelled Words in English

In 2010, Spellchecker.net published an infographic of the 15 most misspelled words in English. Grammar.net shared it on their website. See more at http://www.grammar.net/misspelledwords#sthash.STg4HRMJ.dpuf.

The list includes:

1: Their–confusion may come from “thief”.

2: A lot–“alot” isn’t a word.

3: Received–there’s that “I” and “E” thing.

4: Separate–confusion is probably caused by the pronunciation.

5: Until–one “L”: “Till the earth until it’s ready.”

6: Because–“A” and “U” are commonly swapped.

7: Beginning–two “Ns”.

8: Different–spoken, the first “E” isn’t enunciated, so it’s often left out.

9: Occurred–two “Cs”, two “Rs”.

10: Believe–it actually follows the old rule.

11: Behavior–no “U” for American spelling.

12: Which–don’t forget that first “H”.

13: Truly–“true” loses its “E” when adding “ly”, but–

14: Really–“real” gains an “L”.

15: Definitely–an “A” often sneaks in.

Spelling is a skill that can set you apart as a writer. If you have a problem with spelling, go the extra mile and take the time to edit or outsource your work to an editor for additional help.