Editors’ Eyes

The dialog box in Word suggests unironically that I should consider changing antidiabetic to ant diabetic. Is there a hyperglycemic epidemic in the insect population that I missed hearing about?

Spell-check can be a useful tool that improves the quality and readability of content. But as editors and readers know all too well, spell-check can be dangerous if wielded indiscriminately. Instead of making the role of a human editor obsolete, spell-check has only underscored the need for such professionals.

Several papers submitted to JAMA recently proved this point. I usually run spell-check after I complete my editing in case I missed something. In addition to the diabetic ants, Word suggested the following: change metformin to motormen, pertussis to peruses, autonomously to gluttonously, and PDF to puff.

I politely declined all these fine suggestions but was grateful when Word spotted terible that should have been tertile. What a difference a word makes.

Over time spell-check has become more useful because I regularly add words to my locally stored dictionary (“Add to Dictionary” in the dialog box). In addition, Dorland’s offers a medical spell-checker that can be integrated directly into Word and Stedman’s offers a medical spell-checker as well

Despite these useful add-ons, I still like to read articles word-for-word, when time permits, and not rely solely on technology to prevent errors. The ants, I’m afraid, are beyond my expertise.—Stacy L. Christiansen, MA

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