Beyond Spelling and Grammar Check

In this guest post, Daniel Heuman of Intelligent Editing, explains how you can use PerfectIt to take the proofreading capabilities of MS Word to an entirely new level.

Lots of people haven't noticed it, but MS Word's spelling and grammar checks have got a lot better in the last ten years. Nevertheless, there are still entire categories of errors that Word's built-in tools can't find. And if you're editing professional documents such as proposals, reports, contracts, technical documents, articles or books, those mistakes can be just as important.

Mistakes matter

Documents prepared in organizations such as consultancies, legal firms, NGOs, and government departments are prone to errors that result from having more than one author. In particular, they suffer from consistency mistakes. These mistakes are difficult and time-consuming to find manually. However, they jump out at readers and make the text seem sloppy. For important documents, where there may be a lot riding on the impression that your words make, grammar and spell checkers simply aren't enough.

The result is a lot of time spent proofreading. And yet, mistakes still get through. So think about how much time can be saved, and how much better documents can be, if you use software to help with that proofreading. Software cannot replace human editing. But it can make checking faster and better. And that's why professional editors use PerfectIt. More than 400 members of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders use PerfectIt. And thousands of other professionals around the world use it too.

A different kind of error

PerfectIt finds mistakes like:

  • Inconsistent spelling (for example, the spelling "adviser" in one location, but "advisor" in another).
  • Hyphenation inconsistency (such as "micro-economic" and "microeconomic" in the same document).
  • Abbreviations that are not defined (e.g. "NGO" without explaining that it stands for "non-governmental organization").
  • Consistency of capitals (for example, "University" in one location, but "university" in another).

Other mistakes that PerfectIt finds include brackets/quotes left open, consistency of italics, punctuation and capitalization of lists, tables numbered in the wrong order, and much more. Finding these mistakes manually can take a great deal of time. PerfectIt can locate each mistake in seconds.

How PerfectIt works

The great thing about PerfectIt is that you write your documents in Word in exactly the same way that you always have. There are no templates, forms or markers of any kind. You write your text exactly as you have always done. Then at the end, you launch PerfectIt from the ribbon (or the toolbar in Word 2003 or earlier)

 Launch PerfectIt from the ribbon or toolbar

PerfectIt loads to the side of the document. You click 'start" to begin checking.

 PerfectIt runs next to your document

Then PerfectIt scans your text to check for potential errors.

Correcting errors

PerfectIt finds potential mistakes. Just like spelling or grammar checks, that doesn't mean that there is always a mistake there. Human judgement is the key to checking with PerfectIt. Check all of its suggestions carefully before making any changes.

PerfectIt's errors often appear as a choice between two options. For example, if a document contains the abbreviation "NASA" as well as "N.A.S.A.", PerfectIt will give the option to choose the one you prefer.
 PerfectIt lets you choose your preference

After you choose the preferred form, PerfectIt displays every location that does not meet your preference. So you can go through and fix each one. For example, the test below found the phrase "drop-in" in the same document as "drop in". So PerfectIt offers the choice of version, then displays each location below it. For every location that's incorrect, the user can click "Fix".
 Click fix to change the text to your preferred form

Then click "Next" to move on to the next error. When PerfectIt is done with each check, it moves on to the next one. For example, the screenshot below is the full PerfectIt screen (in this case correcting an issue with bullet punctuation).
 PerfectIt corrects bullet punctuation

Checking your house style

In this article, we've looked at consistency mistakes within a document. However, PerfectIt can also be used to check any organization's house style to ensure consistency between different documents. PerfectIt comes with eight built-in styles: US spelling; UK spelling; Canadian spelling; Australian spelling; United Nations style; European Union style; WHO style; and Australian Government style. You can use any of those, or program your own. In another article, we'll look at ways you can use PerfectIt to check your house style.

The best way to see PerfectIt in action

As you can see from the screenshots, PerfectIt's interface is intuitive and easy to use. But the best way to see PerfectIt in action is to try it for yourself. PerfectIt was developed using Add-In Express, which makes it easy to install and run. There's a free 30 day trial that doesn't require any credit card or other personal information. So click to get the free trial and start checking your documents now.

Daniel Heuman is the founder and CEO of Intelligent Editing. You can find out more about PerfectIt at www.intelligentediting.com

One Response to "Beyond Spelling and Grammar Check"

  1. Sam says:

    Hi there,

    May I ask you which of the following sounds better?

    There is the interesting story of an accomplished thief who followed a wealthy man into the first-class compartment of a train for a three-day-long journey.

    There is an interesting story of an accomplished thief who followed a wealthy man into the first-class compartment of a train for a three-day-long journey.

    With appreciation,
    Sam

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