May 31, 2011

Editors’ Eyes

Filed under: editing process — amastyleinsider @ 9:49 am
Tags: , ,

The dialog box in Word suggests unironically that I should consider changing antidiabetic to ant diabetic. Is there a hyperglycemic epidemic in the insect population that I missed hearing about?

Spell-check can be a useful tool that improves the quality and readability of content. But as editors and readers know all too well, spell-check can be dangerous if wielded indiscriminately. Instead of making the role of a human editor obsolete, spell-check has only underscored the need for such professionals.

Several papers submitted to JAMA recently proved this point. I usually run spell-check after I complete my editing in case I missed something. In addition to the diabetic ants, Word suggested the following: change metformin to motormen, pertussis to peruses, autonomously to gluttonously, and PDF to puff.

I politely declined all these fine suggestions but was grateful when Word spotted terible that should have been tertile. What a difference a word makes.

Over time spell-check has become more useful because I regularly add words to my locally stored dictionary (“Add to Dictionary” in the dialog box). In addition, Dorland’s offers a medical spell-checker that can be integrated directly into Word and Stedman’s offers a medical spell-checker as well

Despite these useful add-ons, I still like to read articles word-for-word, when time permits, and not rely solely on technology to prevent errors. The ants, I’m afraid, are beyond my expertise.—Stacy L. Christiansen, MA


  1. What excellent advice and thanks for the info about the additional medical spelling checkers. Sometimes I suspect my “personal dictionary” is larger than the built-in one in Word.

    Comment by Georganna Hancock — May 31, 2011 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  2. I am also greatful for human editors as a regular profession. It is crazy how many documents I see that obviously did not have a quick read through before publishing.

    Comment by Andrea Altenburg — May 31, 2011 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

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