Obviously the answer to this is, yes, we should all use spellcheck. It’s a great resource, and has certainly improved the quality, or at least the spelling, of much of what is published today. Copy-editing is an imperfect science, never really as well paid as it should be and often a process involving quite tight deadlines.
And not every author gets to use the services of a copy-editor. If you are correcting your own work, the process becomes even more difficult, as we often tend to read what we believe we have written, rather than what’s actually on the page.
So spellcheck definitely helps, but, according to research compiled for the OED, a new problem that’s becoming more and more common is words which are correctly spelled being used in the wrong sense, particularly homonyms.
According to this research, the top three words most often mis-used are:
- Diffuse v defuse
- Rein v reign
- Tow v toe
So, while we’re pouring/poring over our work, it might be worth us all checking to see if any of these might have slipped through and affect/effect our tomb/tome.