No Spellchecker Will Help You:
How You Can Avoid Text Disasters

by Dr. Poly Syllabic

Dear Friends,
As an editor and technical advisor for the past 30+ years — both for my husband, real estate appraisal author Henry S. Harrison; and our daughter, Kate Lambert Harrison, CEO of — I feel uniquely qualified to report on the state of written materials in our ever-more complex computerized era.

It's simple: much of the text material I read each day is incredibly, egregiously, annoyingly flawed!

In this age of spellcheckers and auto-fill, Siri and sexting, writing often becomes a process of "
guesstimation" on the part of our computer helpers, and a current lack of skill on the part of many younger assistants and clerks.

I'm here to tell you that there are moments every day — in your correspondence, preparation of slides and PowerPoint presentations, and that press release your company wants sent out immediately to 2,000 reporters online — when no spellchecker can help you.

Reed this send tense and you'll sea rite of way what I mean.

In short, so many words in English are homonyms that a spellchecker can easily be fooled into misspelling a common word, and the only way I know to catch these errors is a very old trick:

Yes: after you've written and polished that excellent p.r. release,
read it aloud. Read it to a colleague, read it to your six year old daughter, or even to your Golden Retriever -- but do not fail to read it out loud. Hearing what you've written is one tried and true method for catching those "idiot mistakes" that make your company look sloppy.

Bottom line: If you don't think spelling and grammar errors can damage your image, think again.

Dr. Poly Syllabic

Editor’s Note: Dr. Poly Syllabic is a new blog that REV will publish on a semi-annual basis written by our former editor, Ruth Lambert. For grammar or writing questions, feel free to contact Ruth at