May’s Spell-Checker Contest post: Errors revealed for review

Feeling Frustrated

Feeling frustrated by spell-checker’s missed errors

Our May Editing Contest was a comedy of errors..

I challenged contestants to wade through a real post riddled with dozens of intentional mistakes. Mistakes composed entirely of words spelled correctly, but used incorrectly.

These are the errors an ordinary spell-checking program cannot reliably identify. They fool your own eye, too, since you know your intended meaning and thus tend to skim past them.

We had a slew of entries, and no true consensus on the correct count; although there was a circling ’round the drain in the vicinity of “about 70” mistakes in total.

I promised more than a simple answer: that I would offer the original post with every error spotlighted. In the reprinted post, shown below, each spelled-right-but-used-incorrectly word is now red-inked.

For a small bonus, I asked players how many complete sentences showed no such errors. These I’ve underlined and colored green.

Now it’s nearly time to distribute May’s prizes–

  •  First Prize, closest error-count — $20
  •  Entry Prize, chosen at random among ALL entries — $10
  • Bonus Prize, for the correct-sentences count — $5

But before I do, let’s have a few keen eyes check my work. Will you read the red- and green-lined post and see if I’ve caught all of the mistakes? Call-out any further corrections you discover by adding a Comment, just below the contest post.

So, for your review, here’s how the May Spell-Checker Error Contest unfolded:

The May Spell-Checker Error Contest begins…


Post:  Should You Relay on Spell-Checker to Edit Your Book?

by Jim Bessey

If your like me, you depend upon your word-processing software’s spell-checker to pinpoint errors when your composing.

Let’s be honest hear: even if you did once know how too spell thousands of words, your digital editing buddy has taken over the heavy lifting. Unless you’ve turned yours off (and why wood you??).

When you’re racing your fingers across the keyboard, ideas spouting fourth like lava, Spell-check is an amazing time-savor and a God-send.

So, why do so mane experts like Guy Kawasaki insist that you must pay a competent editor to go though your manuscript before you publish it?

Good question!

Doesn’t good software make expensive editors obsolete? You mite think sow.

However, judging by the shear number of errors I’m seeing in ebooks I’ve bought from Amazon, we’d all be better of to air on the side of caution and pay-up!

On of the funniest mistakes I’ve seen this past ear was from an Author who described the device that’s glued to the inside of you’re windshield as a “review mirror.” Seriously?

“But I can’t afford it!” you scream.

But can you afford knot to hire an editor? Think about this for a minute. In are cent post, author Peg Brantley (Red Tide, The Missings) quoted sum stunning statistics:

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 books are published each year in the U.S. alone. That’s more than 83,000 a month. 2,700 a day. 114 books a minute. Every minute.

Now, were would you rather be among those million new books this year? Top 10% or bottom 10%? Here’s how two guarantee the ladder: publish a book filled with mistakes like the ones in this post.

If you want to cell books, lost of them, yours will need to bee nearly error-free.

“I can due it myself,” you insist.

Can you really? Can you, your husband, ore your best righting buddy catch at least 99% of the mistakes in your manuscript?

History and personal experience says, “not likely.”

The trouble centers around an lack of objectivity. You now what you rote. Your spouse loves you, and your friend doesn’t want to hurt you feelings. Their not editors, so you can’t deepened on then to be through and professional.

Sew what’s a writer to do?

You could settle four less. I’m not trying to rein on your parade here. I’m trying to be honest, the weigh a paid editor would level with you.

Event if your story is fantastic, but its filled with mistakes — only your friends will bye it.

If you have optimistic goals about sails of your book and want to keep those objectives in site, you well have to publish the beast possible product that you can produce. Don’t district readers with errors. They’ll never comeback.

And they won’t even bother to leaf you reviews. Or even review mirrors. (Don’t count that!)

Trust me, the future success off your book depends on word of month and grate reviews.

Otherwise, you simply don’t half enough friends.

Wear do you want your book to be in they ear 2014? If you’d like to sea it hit one of Amazon’s best-seller lists, then byte the bullet and heir a professional editor.

Please don’t weight for pour reviews and dismal sales figures to proof my point for you.

Invest in yore future and inspect success fore your book. And stop looking for any more errors now!

»Photo credit:  Zach Klein

questionDid you find “spell-checker” errors that I missed? Describe your additional finds in Comments, just below.

Note: For this contest, we did not include any inadvertent punctuation or grammatical errors unrelated to the whole spell-checker issue here. Thanks!


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  1. God-send = godsend
    Spell-check = spell-check
    pay-up = pay up
    “History and personal experience says, “not likely.” = say

    Sorry, couldn’t resist!

    • If “Spell-check” is used in the place of the formal name of a program, it would be capitalized versus using it to speak about all spell checkers. [I looked up spell checkers, and one of the first programs was named SPELL, an acronym.]

      • Thanks, Eva.

        Can you point to the specific sentence where I’ve used that improperly? (See my earlier reply to Robin Tidwell.)

        We’re almost there, thanks!

        • –When you’re racing your fingers across the keyboard, ideas spouting fourth like lava, Spell-check is an amazing time-savor and a God-send.

          [I was actually replying to someone saying that “Spell-check” would be capitalized in the sentence you wrote and would not be an error.]

          • I ended up on the fence about this one, too, Eva.

            If “Spell-check” is the brand name for an application, then the capitalization is correct. However, if instead it’s just a generic identity for all spell-checking software, then it should be lowercase. This just goes to show that I should have had a professional editor proofread my error-filled post so I could be certain which were mistakes and which weren’t.

            In any event, I put all four players who entered counts of 72 and 73 into the pool for the First Place prize. That was the best solution I could think of as a remedy.

      • OK, I found it while adding in the other errors, thanks!

    • Looks like you’ve caught all of the remaining possibilities, Robin.

      Both “God-send” and “pay-up” are my fault. This points out that most spell-check software will simply ignore hyphenated words. Although I did not include those errors intentionally, we will have to count them.

      However, I haven’t been able to locate the “Spell-check” instance. I’ve found it only at the beginning of a sentence, in which case the capitalization is forced.

      Sorry about that verb “says”. It sounds right to my ear, but upon review it is indeed incorrect. I think we have to count it, then. Which also disallows that sentence as error-free.

      I’ll edit the displayed post to reflect your points.

    • I’ve now made those changes, Robin. “New” errors are red and underlined.

      We might be ready for a final count.

  2. I still get 70…haha! Grate contesst. “:))

  3. Seems about right to me. This was fun.

  4. Looks good, Jim. 🙂

  5. So had I included the dodgy hyphens, I may have got 70!

  6. Well folks, I’ve counted three times and have come up with a total of 74 errors each time. In part, this leads to a problem because NO ONE offered a count of 74 as their entry–though we had plenty of very close entries.

    Of those 74, four were not ones I’d intended to include. See Robin Tidwell’s early comment, above.

    Here’s what I’m going to do:
    > We have two entries each of 73 and 72. I’ll choose our Winner from among those four.
    > We also have four entries of 71 or 70. I’ll award an additional $10 “second place” to one of those players.
    > As noted, one contestant will also receive the “thank you for entering” prize of $10, chosen among all non-winners (after I first award the above two prizes).
    > On the In-Comments $5 bonus for “correct sentences,” I show a final total of 6 complete sentences (not fragments) that remain error-free. PJ Yusten and Ann Marie Thomas both ventured “7” as their counts, so one will win that prize on a coin-toss.

    I’ll announce those winners momentarily. Thanks everyone!

  7. Okay, here we go, friends.

    1. Our contest Winner is Jewel Kennington ($20)

    2. Our runner-up prize goes to Rhonda Kronyk ($10)

    3. The Thank You prize is randomly awarded to Leila Wilson ($10)

    4. The Sentence Bonus, won by a coin toss, goes to Ann Marie Thomas ($5)

    Congratulations to all of our winners. Thank you to everyone who entered, a record crowd by the way!

    I’ll contact each winner to confirm your PayPal email choice.

  8. Congrats to the winners! Poor Jim must still have a headache from this contest! 🙂

    • I’m just really happy to wrap this one up, Glory.

      Our contestants have been very patient while I worked this out. I didn’t want to make any ERRORS in finalizing this, whether in counting, in a subsequent post, or in an email inquiry. That would have been embarrassing.

      This “little” contest attracted a lot of interest, so it was important to me to get it right. I hope I’ve succeeded!

  9. Rebekah Jones says

    congrats to all the winners!

  10. The online spell check is the better on the internet tool primarily based via reading user reviews and also comments. Some of them also have contributed the Spellcheck between the friends given that they also believe in the effectiveness of while using checker.
    If you interested this comment please share your friend. Thanks for read this comment.


  1. […] Now, where would you rather be among those million new books this year? Top 10% or bottom 10%? Here’s how to guarantee the latter: publish a book filled with mistakes like the ones in the original contest post. […]

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