Re: Grammar Checkers

Subject: Re: Grammar Checkers
From: "Kenneth M. Nuckols" <knuck -at- BESTBUY -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 10:30:02 -0500

At 12:06 AM 6/26/96 CDT, Farah Fleurima wrote:
> Hi!

> I'm writing a paper in my tech editing course about the use of
>computer grammar checkers in tech editing and writing. Are they
> used at all in this field? I'd really like some input from anyone
>who'd like to comment.
> The specific focus of this paper is the effectiveness of grammar checkers.
>Would or should anyone in tech editing rely on them at all? Are there
>any versions that are superior to others and why? Also, what is the
>greatest shortcoming of grammar checkers?
> I'd greatly appreciate comments or responses from anyone who's used
>a grammar checker, or at least has an opinion about them.


I can't speak for anyone else on the list, but I personally find
grammar checkers of very little use. The only thing I like about some is
their supposed ability to detect passive voice. I tend to be verbose in my
initial draft of anything I write; then I heavily edit and cut it down until
I'm left with a more concise text. From time to time I slop (no, that's not
a typo) into passive voice, and any tool I can use to help me spot it is
most appreciated. However, I find that the grammar checker's ability to
spot passive voice is shoddy at best, even in the Office 95 suite. Yes, I
know there are better DP packages, but the company has gone Microsoft (since
we're one of their biggest retailers)--we all have our crosses to bear,
right? It's another tool to help the "poofreading," as it were; thus, I
find the grammar checker of limited usefulness.
Sometimes I find it amusing to subject a piece to the Word for
Windows95 grammar checker just for kicks, since it rates the readability
index on three different scales. Often a single piece will rate as low as
7th or 8th grade on one scale to as high as 18th on another. I want to ask
one question of Microsoft: Who's the genius that decided to use these three
scales, and how thoroughly useless are they if they can't even agree on
reading level? Geez...
Hope this is what you're looking for, Farah.

Kenneth M. Nuckols Best Buy Co, Inc.
Corporate Trainer 7075 Flying Cloud Dr.
knuck -at- BestBuy -dot- com Eden Prarie, MN 55433
nuckler -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com (612) 947-2518

"I am McMahon of Borg -- you may have already been assimilated!"
-- Anonymous

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