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Critical thinking and manual editing

Skill, wrting, editing, MS Word, spell check, grammar check, Microsoft

Critical thinking and manual editing


Rama Kant Mishra

Bravo Bill Gates and wonderful Microsoft which gave us an application tool called MS Word and made our life easier. Millions of people using MS Word around the globe are in a way getting addicted with this word processing application. I have heard people saying “Oh! Your PC does not have Word? How do you work?” Bill Gates would be happy hearing and reading such statement every time it appears in different forms. Such is the dependency on MS Word that it has come to rule our life where documentation is concerned. In reality the features and workability are very easy in this application, and you can be your self tutor learning this application, if in case you have not used it before. But I am really afraid to say that you are not one of the word users. In any case you might be using any other word application software for word processing. I do not know how dependent you are on that software for accuracy and precision while writing, spelling and grammar check is concerned.

However, I am bit hesitant to express my plight and be open before you that because of MS Word I have forgotten my basics in writing. I call myself a writer, especially when I am a technical writer, how judicious it is to be heavily dependent on MS Word for spell check and grammar check. I wouldn’t have discovered it unless a simple game by our operation head, during his first team meeting, wouldn’t have done it for the entire extended leader in the organization. Unbelievable! Out of ten simple words I could write only five of them correctly. I realized that for simple words such as at least, up to, and in spite, if I am to be dependent on the MS Word’s spell check then its really time that I should check my basics whether I have or I have lost it. It wasn’t me alone in the group; majority of the people had the same problem what I faced. However, as a writer I felt the severity of the burn and did realise that it was slam on my writing profession.

Back to the basics, should I be critical about MS Word or should I be praising it? I definitely will curse MS Word for making me over dependent for spell check and that’s how I forgot the spellings of the word of daily use. I will appreciate MS word, for preparing my documents the easiest way, although the correctness of English remains a doubtful issue. We literally have forgotten to check and look in dictionary for correctness of words while working with MS Word rather sometimes we get along with the prompt of the words or sentences suggested by it, which is entirely incorrect at a time.

A poorly written report if spell checked and grammar checked can pass through the test of MS Word’s English then its time we should start worrying about our English getting bad to worse. On further research it appears that MS Word’s “spell and grammar check” is so bad that people have even questioned its offering as a feature in a product which is so widely in use. It is interesting to note that the message we receive after the spelling and grammar are checked reads: “The spelling and grammar check is complete”. To all of us who are in to good writing practices these are two different types of checking and the message should read "the spelling and grammar checks are complete."

In other instances, look at these following sentences:
“Dominos is good brand. Domino’s is good brand. Domino’s are good brand. Dominos’ are good brand. Domino’s and Pepsi are good brand. Domino’s and Coca Cola is good brand. DOMINO’S AND PEPSI IS GOOD BRAND.

Finance good for marketing. Show me Dollar!

You Know What I Mean? Internets do good job in company name Amazon. Internets help sell big company like Boeing. Internets make good brand best like Pepsi.

Bills do good sale job in Microsoft. Bills do good sale jobs out Microsoft. Bills build the big brand in Microsoft. The Bills is leader of big company in Washington.”

MS Word does not show any error, does it? Are these sentences correctly written or are we going to write English like this in near future? Over and above I was really amused to hear a question from a veteran technical writer in the industry asking another guest technical writer of repute in a session that MS Word Grammar check is not always right. Obviously not! And if it is then the role of a technical editor is eliminated and there will not be any dearth of technical editor. Long live MS Word!

Some are in opinion that this feature works well for good writers and not for bad ones. Good writers follow most of the rules and this feature can help them on the margins. If you are a bad writer with a poor understanding of the rules, this feature will not help you at all. This is, clearly, a problem. The feature does not help those who can most benefit from it.

The question is “Are you against technology?” Or against Microsoft or against Bill Gates? The answer is I am not personally against anyone because competing products in the market do not seem to be doing any better. WordPerfect, for instance, catches one sentence in the original demo- but does not offer a better alternative. The only hope is that this feedback will convince Microsoft to invest money in improving this feature. It is believed that Microsoft has the ability to improve this feature and hope it exercises it in near future to come up with good solution. In fact, there is hope that everybody (including OpenOffice) works on improving Grammar checks.

This has to be shared with colleagues and to the wider audience to understand the limitation of this application. Special concerned is for the children in K-12 settings using this feature instead of learning the basics of grammar. This is shocking! It is not that word processing technology is bad. All of us should continue to use this feature. However, I hope we remember to print out what we type and go over it carefully before sending it on. These technologies can help us write better. But, there are no substitutes for critical thinking and manual editing.
Published: 2006-12-18
Author: Rama Kant Mishra

About the author or the publisher
I have done Masters in Fisheries Management and have written and published articles on Fisheries, Agriculture, Medical, Pharmaceutical, political, self Improvement and Career. Professionally working for an IT company as a Technical Writer. I love to write and publish and have worked as freelance writer, ghost writer and as special correspondent for print media. You may find me contributing on www.merinews.com and www.groundreport.com You may reach me at mishraramakant@gmail.

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