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Making peace with Microsoft Editor

Posted on August 5, 2021

 

Nine months ago, our Editing Team came into work on an otherwise normal day and found that a Microsoft Word feature we had come to rely upon for years had been changed overnight.

The feature in question was the spellcheck tool, which had previous just meant pressing F7 and being taken on a jaunty whizz through all your spelling slip-ups and grammatical gaffes. Suddenly, the feature was being controlled by Microsoft Editor, which wanted to bring up a panel on the right splitting your errors into categories. I hated this feature so much, I immediately looked for a way to get rid of it, and found a macro that did the trick.

That macro now appears to be useless though, as Microsoft has decided that, like it or not, we must use Editor and no meddling with macros will be tolerated. So, how have we found Editor now that we’re compelled to use it?

Well, it’s OK, I suppose. Actually, I can understand how some people might prefer it, especially since you can keep the Editor panel open as you type, meaning it flags up errors and their categories as they go along. Some writers might argue it’s not efficient to edit as you type, however, and that the better approach is to spellcheck when you finish your piece.

One big difference is the order in which the spellcheck is run. For example, the below passage has two spelling mistakes (“spellhceck” and “caerless”) and one grammatical error (“should of”).

As you can see, Editor is able to categorise these two mistakes. Whereas the classic spellcheck would address them in the order you’ve written them and tell you what it thinks is wrong in each instance, Editor runs through the spelling errors first and then comes back to pick up on any questionable grammar.

Quite cleverly, this process can help detect those rare cases where correcting a spelling error creates a grammatical error. As an example, in the sentence “I shud of known better”, Editor will first notice the spelling mistake “shud”. If you accept its suggestion to replace this with “should”, it will immediately recognise that “should of” is grammatically incorrect and recommend “should have”.

I still prefer the old spellcheck, and find Editor a little more fragmented, requiring more clicking. It seems a solution to a problem that never really existed. Still, it looks nifty, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s perfectly adequate, and maybe we were a little hasty in condemning it.

Whatever Word does with its spellcheck, there’s no doubt of the importance of spelling and grammar in online writing. For original, professionally edited content, speak to Engage Web today.

John Murray
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