Last week, I ran out of time and posted a story that I wrote some years ago. Today, let’s get back to your writing and how to improve it.

Proofreading is a vital part of writing. If you don’t bereave me, jump watch “The the Impotence of Proofreading,” by Taylor Mali. Warning: This three-and-a-half-minute video contains adult language and adult humor! (

As a teacher, I have always warned students against blindly following Microsoft’s red and blue squiggly lines which warn of errors. I tell them that Bill Gates does not always know the proper word choice (is it “that” or “which”?), desired punctuation, or correct spelling. Oh, sure, sometimes he gets it right; but sometimes he doesn’t. Did you catch my misspellings above? “If you don’t bereave me, jump watch…”? Not to mention repeating the word “the” twice in the title of the video.” No squiggly lines there! Case in point.

Likewise, in a recent writing, I dissed a squiggle mark that offered the possessive, “your,” instead of the contraction “you’re,” in context meaning “you are home.” Wrong! Additionally, where I came from (court reporting), we were taught to never put a comma after the word “So” at the beginning of a sentence. So with every spell-checked document (yep, I got a squiggly line), I am advised to use “So-comma” instead of “So-no comma.” My reply? “Ignore” but just once is my only option! Ugh!

And spelling? Is it “accomodation” or “accommodation” and “accumulation” or “accummulation”—one has two letters “M”; the other, one. But which one? When I had problems with this spelling many years ago, I remembered that most hotel accommodations had two pillows. So the “Ms” in accommodations represented two fluffy pillows to wrap my arms around (designated by the two Os on either side).

So to help your proofreading, develop mnemonic devices to remember your bugaboo words and keep a list of your most commonly misspelled words, misused word choices, and punctuation marks. Knowing these occur will save you time and headache in the long run—even if Bill is sometimes right.

Sorry, Bill!

Next week, those pesky adverbs.