stop using autocorrect

Reducing your reliance on autocorrect

September 16, 2023
  •  BY 

Even just 20 years ago, most writing was edited and revised by hand, using physical dictionaries and style guides.

Today, things are very different: Handheld red pens have turned into on-screen red squiggles and outright word replacements. And while autocorrect is a great tool that many of us use daily, the problem is that we often rely on it a little too much.

So if you want to learn how to reduce your reliance on autocorrect, keep reading—because it’ll never fully take the place of proper education and strong writing skills.

The origins and evolutions of autocorrect

The concept of autocorrect—now a staple in our digital communication—traces its origins back to the early days of word processing. Its ancestor, the spell checker, was first introduced in the late 1970s, most notably with WordStar, one of the earliest commercially successful word processing software.

As technology advanced, so did the need for more efficient and streamlined typing, especially with the rise of smaller devices where typos became more common.

In the early 1990s, as mobile phones with text capabilities emerged, the idea of autocorrect took form. It was originally designed to help address the challenges of typing on tiny phone keypads, where multiple letters were often assigned to a single key. This system was developed to predict the intended word based on the sequence of keypresses.

Over time, as smartphones with full keyboards became ubiquitous, autocorrect evolved to correct misspelled words on the fly, sometimes leading to amusing or embarrassing results. Its integration became more sophisticated with the advent of machine learning algorithms, allowing it to predict and correct words based on individual typing habits, context, and commonly used language patterns.

The danger of overdependence on autocorrect

While autocorrect is undoubtedly a helpful tool, especially in the fast-paced digital age, it's essential not to become too dependent on it.

Firstly, over-reliance can impede your ability to hone and retain fundamental spelling and grammar skills. The process of making mistakes and correcting them yourself plays a crucial role in learning. By always allowing technology to correct your errors, you might become complacent and let your language skills decline.

Moreover, autocorrect isn't flawless. Its algorithms are based on patterns, predictions, and often, popular usage, which means it can sometimes make incorrect or inappropriate corrections, leading to miscommunication or even embarrassing situations. Check out this funny example of a text that was plagued by autocorrect:

Lastly, overdependence on autocorrect might diminish your attention to detail. In many situations, from academic writing to professional projects, precision and clarity are paramount. Being overly reliant on automated tools can lead to an attitude of complacency, which can subsequently result in overlooked mistakes that a human eye might catch.

In essence, while autocorrect is a beneficial tool, it's important to use it as an aid rather than a crutch, ensuring that your own skills remain sharp and reliable.

5 tips to reduce your reliance on autocorrect

Here are five practical tips to help you reduce your reliance on autocorrect:

1. Typing accurately: the importance of taking your time

One of the biggest culprits behind our overreliance on autocorrect is our tendency to type too fast. Speed has become synonymous with efficiency, but when it comes to writing, taking your time and typing accurately is key. By slowing down and taking a more deliberate approach to typing, you'll be able to catch typos and other mistakes before they make their way into your final draft.

In addition to improving accuracy, taking your time can also help you think more critically about what you're writing. When you rush through your work, you often sacrifice depth and clarity for speed. By slowing down and giving yourself ample time to think about each sentence, you'll be able to craft more thoughtful and nuanced messages that better resonate with your audience.

2. Learn the correct spelling of commonly misspelled words

One of the biggest drawbacks of relying too heavily on autocorrect is that it can cause you to forget correct spellings. For example, if you always rely on autocorrect to fix "recieve" to "receive," you might not remember how to spell it correctly in the future, in a situation where using autocorrect isn't an option.

To combat this, it's important to make an effort to learn the correct spelling of commonly misspelled words. You might find that by doing so, you'll need less help from autocorrect overall.

3. Practice writing without autocorrect

One of the best ways to reduce your reliance on autocorrect is to practice writing without it. One way to do this is by using a physical keyboard instead of a touchscreen. Typing on a physical keyboard forces you to be more deliberate and accurate with your typing, as there's often no automatic correction feature to fall back on.

4. Turn off autocorrect

Related, intentionally turning off autocorrect is a great way to reduce your dependence on it. While this may seem scary at first, it can be a powerful tool for improving your writing skills.

By turning off autocorrect, you force yourself to pay closer attention to what you're typing. This heightened awareness can help you catch mistakes that you might have otherwise missed. Additionally, by relying solely on your own knowledge and skills, you'll be able to reinforce those skills and build confidence in your own abilities.

If the idea of turning off autocorrect entirely seems too daunting, consider using it only as a last resort. Try to type out each word without relying on autocorrect, and only use it if you're truly stuck. Over time, you may find that you need it less and less as your skills continue to improve.

5. Read carefully before sending

Finally, get in the habit of always reading through your messages before sending them. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's easy to fall into the trap of quickly typing out a message and hitting "send" without giving it a second thought.

By taking just a few extra seconds to read through your message, you'll be able to catch any mistakes that might have slipped in.

In addition to improving accuracy, reading through your messages can also help you catch any potential misunderstandings or tone issues. When we type quickly, we often don't put as much thought into our word choice or phrasing as we should. By taking the time to review your message before sending it, you'll be able to ensure that your intended meaning is clear and that there are no unintended negative connotations.

Improve your writing skills with learning games for adults

If you're looking to improve your writing skills as a way to help reduce your reliance on autocorrect, consider downloading the Elevate app on iOS or Android. This app offers a variety of award-winning brain training games and exercises designed to enhance your grammar, spelling, and overall writing skills.

With regular use, Elevate can help you build a stronger foundation of language skills that will serve you well in both personal and professional contexts. And by combining Elevate with the tips outlined in this article to reduce your dependence on autocorrect, you'll be able to apply those skills with greater confidence and accuracy than ever before.

So why not give it a try? Download Elevate today and start taking your writing to the next level!

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