As editors, we see typos on a regular basis. Some misspellings and grammar gaffes are quite common—I misspell the words and and the as adn and teh constantly because I type very fast and lead with my left hand. Homophone confusion is one of the most prevalent grammar mistakes found when editing—there, their, and they’re is one we see often, as well as to, too, and two confusion. Contextual spelling errors are sometimes the hardest to catch since the word is spelled correctly; however, it is used incorrectly in context.

But if you use Microsoft Word, there is a proofing tool that you can turn on to catch blatant typos and many grammar errors—or it may be enabled already and you’re unsure what the colors mean. So here’s a little trick:

Under Word Options/Proofing option,  Microsoft Word can check your spelling and grammar as you type. When this option is enabled, misspelled words become underlined in red, contextual spelling errors in blue, and grammatical errors in green. When you right-click on the underlined word, some correction options will appear in a drop-down menu for you to choose from.

This isn’t to be said, of course, that you can turn on this feature and never need another editor. The grammar correction may indicate punctuation marks you are not comfortable with inserting into your manuscript—like semicolons or colons—or may indicate the need for a comma when there really isn’t one. So proofread carefully; computer programs are good, but they can’t replace the trained eye—and red pen—of a seasoned professional. But using this feature in conjunction with proofreading your manuscript before submission tells your editor and publisher that you take pride in your work and you want to put your best draft forward.

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