Friday, May 24, 2013

Auto-correct is NOT your friend

I’ve been reading a wide variety of published works and unpublished drafts. As we writers have adapted to technology that lets us type and edit electronically, programs have evolved to help us. Being a writer of fantasy romance with a tendency to make up names for people and places, it’s a given that I tend to overload the spell-check function on my computer. Nonetheless, I do find the program useful to help me spell a word I’m not sure about before digging out the trusty paper dictionary.

What I find both troubling and occasionally useful is the auto-correct function. As I’m typing, I appreciate it automatically capitalizing the first word in my sentences, for instance. However, I have to wonder who programmed some of the choices that pop up over and over in material I’ve read.

For instance, in what universe or language (other than teen-speak) does defiantly occur more frequently than definitely? I am constantly seeing this mistaken choice in material that isn’t even fiction, where defiantly might justifiably occur with some frequency. Apparently, auto-correct incorrectly interpreted what the writer wanted to spell—or jumped in too soon—and the author didn’t bother to proofread or notice the mistaken usage.

Next, what causes costumer to come up more frequently than customer? I hardly believe costume dressers are more common than customers in any retail establishment, yet auto-correct evidently believes this to be true.

Another commonly mistake I’ve unfortunately found in suspense novels is the use of grizzly for grisly. Unless a bear caused the murder, the scene of the crime is a grisly one.

What we as authors need to do is to be aware that auto-correct is sometimes not doing us any favors. Proofread, please.