Spell check is useful, but not guaranteed to save your copy

As I was setting up the background info and links in advance of writing my life with more cowbell blog post on Soulpepper’s upcoming production of It’s A Wonderful Life, I noticed that spell check was taking issue with my spelling of “It’s.” Spell check recommended “Its.”

Spell check was wrong about this common spelling mistake.

“It’s” is an abbreviation of “It is,” as in “It is a wonderful life.”

“Its” is the possessive of “it,” as in “Its life was wonderful.”

While spell check can be a useful tool to catch typos and grammatical errors, it’s (and that’s correct, spell check) far from perfect. So when spell check offers an alternative spelling, don’t automatically assume it’s right and you’re wrong.

Since I work mainly with Canadian clients, I use the Oxford Canadian Dictionary. Think of Canadian English as a hybrid of British and American English—“colour” and “centre,” but “organization” and “analyze.” And if a client has a style guide, I also use that as a reference. So spelling will be dictated by the client’s country of origin and any custom style conventions—conditions that spell check may not recognize.

Yet another example of why you need another pair of human eyes on your copy.

Happy holidays—and happy writing!

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