Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dictionaries for email - the lifeboat for proper correspondence

Recently, my good friend and associate, Frank Kovacs, suggested that I post a blog regarding dictionaries and spell checking for email. It turns out my forthcoming book, "NetiquetteIQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email", includes a section addressing this area. I am posting this today.

Frank is an IT industry executive and founder of the Breakfast Club of NJ, one of the premiere IT professional networking groups in the United States. The website can be viewed at:

"When our spelling is perfect, it's invisible.  But when it's flawed, it projects strong negative associations."
- Marilyn Vos Savant

 Dictionaries and Spell Checkers
Spelling checkers and dictionaries are the safety net of email and compulsory for Netiquette.  Spell checkers are built into many products and there are many more which can be purchased and used separately. Building a personal, portable spell checker is a very convenient, time saving tool.  Anyone who has replaced their computers or operating systems has experienced a relearning and reloading process to incorporate words, acronyms even their own names into multiple spell checkers.  Since many products do allow import/export, these functions should be learned and maintained on a regular basis.  Most of these products allow for exporting and importing other dictionaries.  Additionally, there are products for specialty categories such as medical, legal and scientific applications.  Most, if not all, dictionaries are heuristic and offer options for adding, deleting and auto-correction.  Many spell checkers and dictionaries can be turned off, but there are few instances when this operational option should be disabled.  Even though built-in spell checkers are prevalent, utilizing a freeware or packaged product should be essential to everyone.

Dictionaries are also essential to proper Netiquette.  Words used by senders may be misinterpreted and can distort the  tone and meaning intended by the author.  Any definition not clear should be looked up.  Dictionaries are easy to find and use on-line.  It is desirable to have a system based dictionary for extensive off-line work.

Thesaurus usage

Almost every person has utilized a Thesaurus sometime during their time in school and afterward.  It is an indispensable tool for any student, teacher, author or person who is involved in writing.  Very few can say they have not been at a loss for the perfect word more than once.

Having and using a Thesaurus is also an essential component of email Netiquette.  It is always useful to find the best words to facilitate communication by bringing better clarity, succinctness and variety of vocabulary to any email.  Additionally, as has been stressed several times in these pages, giving thought to email correspondence invokes the best Netiquette which in turn contributes to reducing the mistakes that poorly written emails can manifest.

One can acquire a Thesaurus inexpensively in print, on-line or for no charge from many Internet resources.  It is a resource worthy of constant use.


The most glaring mistake an email author can make is to misspell.  Some mistakes may go unnoticed while others may never be forgotten.  A mistake may be laughable or embarrassing.  One misspelled or misplaced word can change the tone of a correspondence.  There is little, if any, excuse for misspelling any common word since virtually all computer users have access to spelling checkers, dictionaries, reference sites or even search engines.  Even more importantly, correct spelling of proper names is tantamount in a business environment.  Unlike a misspelling in an email address, such a miscue in the body of a message will certainly be noticed.  Take care to look up and verify proper names should one have any doubts.  If spelling errors are significance and are missed and sent, it generally is a good idea to send a note back acknowledging the error.

Many email programs have dictionaries.  Some will flag proper names.  Some spelling checkers will also flag CAPITALIZATION and acronyms with suggested alternatives.  These or other spell checkers might also contain online dictionaries which provide an option to add the word in question to it.  Do not be concerned about too many dictionary entries.  It is tantamount to add names not only for avoiding a misspelling, it is also a time saving step to reduce having to scroll through mail when potential mistakes or unknown words are flagged. Many dictionaries will not include the spelling of people's common names.  Moreover, last names are also not within dictionaries either.  To this end, it is good Netiquette practice to add important last names (first names also) to dictionaries.  Include friends, acquaintances, business associates, or those one will have likelihood to send emails.

No comments:

Post a Comment