Though we’ve narrowed it down to “10 things spell checkers won’t catch,” we should warn you that there are hundreds of spelling and grammatical errors that can go unnoticed by your computer’s spell-check program. That’s why you will still need to proofread your application the old fashioned way, by eyeballing it. Enlist a friend to proofread it as well. Read it out loud, read it backwards, and try to read it like you’ve never seen it before. Rooting out typos and other errors will be well worth your time and effort. If you need any motivation to commit to a vigorous proofreading effort, read on to learn about the errors that can slip right through spell-check programs:
Homonyms (same-sounding words with different meanings): Spell checkers won’t alert you to change ‘pare’ to ‘pair,’ or ‘there’ instead of ‘their.’
Incorrectly divided compound words: Spell checkers won’t tell you that ‘bed room’ should be spelled ‘bedroom,’ or that ‘snow flake’ should be ‘snowflake.’
Incorrect pronouns: Spell checkers won’t realize that you typed in ‘his’ or – worse – ‘its’ when you should have typed ‘hers,’ or ‘she’ when it should have been ‘he.’
Usage errors: Spell checkers probably won’t alert you to typos involving ‘its’ and ‘it’s.’
Missing words: Spell checkers probably won’t catch the missing word in a phrase like, “I attended University of Michigan…”
Wrong words: ‘Martial’ often gets typed in when the writer means ‘marital,’ but your spell checker will be oblivious to the error and other cases that involve incorrectly used words.
Wrong dates: Spell checkers won’t question a statement like, “Graduating from college in 2024, I realized…”
Misspelled names: Of course you know that a spell checker won’t help you with the name of your favorite English professor, the delightful Dr. Fitzenschreichter, but it won’t help you with Kira or Kyra either. Double check those names yourself. The one you get wrong could be the mother of the admissions officer reviewing your application.
Incorrect verb tenses: Past or present? In terms of correct verb tenses, the spell checker doesn’t care, so you need to be the grammarian here.
Repetition: Spell checkers will alert you to errors involving the same word twice in a row, but other erroneous repetitions, like the same phrase or sentence twice in a row, won’t be detected.
Spell checkers are handy for screening small, common errors, but running a spell check is only the first of many steps it takes to produce a letter-perfect application.