Spellcheck software, such as that in Microsoft Word, is of limited use, because it won’t catch all spelling mistakes. You certainly should run spellcheck on your manuscript, but it’s not sufficient. Let’s consider a few situations in which spellcheck falls short.

A word isn’t the intended word but is a different word and is spelled correctly:

Leaning should be fun.

In this case, the writer means learning rather than leaning, but spellcheck won’t flag the word since leaning is a word and it is spelled correctly. This problem also occurs frequently with homophones—words that sound alike but have different meanings and may have different spellings—such as steaks and stakes.

A word is omitted:

The company plans to sell product in countries.

From context, we may know that the writer was discussing two countries in which consumers might like the product, so he or she intended to say The company plans to sell product in both countries. Spellcheck won’t flag that the word both was omitted. Even the grammar functionality within Word’s spellcheck won’t flag that this intended word was omitted, because the sentence as written is grammatically correct.

An apostrophe is incorrectly used:

You’re mother likes chocolate.

Since the writer means to indicate possessive (the mother of the person he or she is addressing), the correct spelling is Your rather than You’re. The sentence should read: Your mother likes chocolate. Like homophones, contractions and possessives are frequently confused with each other. It’s/its, you’re/your, and who’s/whose are just a few of these. Spellcheck won’t flag you’re in the example sentence above, because it’s a word and is spelled correctly. The grammar functionality within Word is somewhat more helpful in this situation but still not perfect.