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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Proofreading Tip: Do the It Test

Do you use spell check and grammar check as your proofreaders?

I typed this sentence in a document: Don't send that document until it's error free. Word flagged it's as an error and suggested using its. Is Word correct? No, this sentence is correct as is.

So, I typed four more sentences using it's, its, and its' in a Word document; here are the results:

Its a great day to walk your dog. AutoCorrect changed Its to It's after I typed the space after the a. (Word is correct.)

The dog and its owner went for a walk. No correction. (Word is correct again.)

The dog and it's owner went for a walk. Grammar check put the green zigzagged line under it's and suggested its. (Wow! Three in a row! Another one right for Word.)

The dog and its' owner went for a walk. No correction. (Word is wrong; its' should be its.)

Three out of five were correct, depending on your spelling and grammar settings.

Here are the rules:
  • It's is a contraction: it's = it is.
  • Its is the possessive for it. Possessive pronouns don't use apostrophes. This rule is confusing because nouns use apostrophes to show possession, but pronouns do not.
  • Its' is never correct.
Use CTRL+F to search for it to check its usage.
  1. Press CTRL+HOME to go to the beginning of the document.
  2. Press CTRL+F to open the Find and Replace dialog box.
  3. Type it in the Find what: text box.
  4. Press ENTER to go to each occurrence of it.
  5. Do the test: Should you use its (possessive pronoun) or it's (it is)?
Are your presentations, spreadsheets, and e-mails error free? Will it's and its be flagged correctly? Each Microsoft program has its own proofing options, so the above errors may not be detected in the different programs.

Are you willing to take the risk to use spell check or grammar check as your proofreader? How will you know if the person reading your document isn't calling you for an interview or a sales meeting because you have an error? Some people will judge you based on mistakes. Do you think its wrong? (Word flagged its, did you?) I'd love to hear what you think. Do you judge people? Please cast your vote in the proofreading survey.

You're invited to join the National Proofreading Day LinkedIn Group; please click this link to join and ask your business grammar, punctuation, and proofreading questions!

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

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