Spellchecker is your friend—or not. As most know if they used spell check on their documents, it is not infallible. Many horror stories exist about gaffs when using it.
One of my worst spell checking goofs I made was when I worked at United Way. Unfortunately, united is an anagram for untied. I really had to watch not to send out anything from UNTIED WAY.
A recent article in the local paper showed how using spell checker and its “suggestions” for words can come back to bite you.
The Daily Universe, the Brigham Young student newspaper, recently ran an article and picture that caused them much embarrassment.
The wording used under the picture in questions identified leaders of the Mormon Church as apostates instead of apostles.
Why is this a problem, you ask? Apostate is person who has abandoned religious faith, principle or a cause. When the copy editor ran spell check, apostate was suggested as a replacement for a misspelling of apostle. Oops! The honest mistake caused the newspaper to do lots of scrambling to recover. In the end, they had to pull thousands of issues from newsstands.
I’m sure my late grandmother, who was head proofreader at the Cedar Rapids Gazette is somewhere chuckling about this. She and my mother, who was also a proofreader at the paper, did manually what the computer spell check software do. Every day, the room full of proofreaders checked every word that was printed for style, typos and errors. Neither lived long enough to learn what a computer can do (or not do) in this regard…maybe that is a good thing.
What is your worst horror story about using spellcheck? (G-rated, please)
I am eager to hear from you.
4/23/09 Just came across an interesting site. Maybe we need spellchecker for bumperstickers and gravestones.
5/21/09 Philip B. Corbett of the N.Y. Times wrote a good column on this topic.