Cartoon of student and teacher at a blackboard. The caption says: "It's a blackboard, there is no spell check."

Faced with a long piece of copy to write you might be forgiven for thinking that a writing programme, or software, will save you lots of time and money.

Technology is continually improving writing management systems to create packages that can be used at home or in the office, speeding up the conversion of features, advertising copy and technical bulletins into articles or reports.

The human touch

But no matter how good they are, they are no substitute for the human touch. When it comes to writing accurately, and writing clearly and coherently, there is no better ‘system’ than a person’s mother-tongue understanding of their own language.

Languages can often use the same word to mean completely different things. Some languages have more than one word that means the same thing. And sometimes, there simply isn’t a word in one language to describe something directly from another: there are at least 100 different ways to say ‘snow’ in the Russian language, but no direct translation for just ‘snow’. And when you have heard a human person use the word ‘fine’ …

Artificial intelligence

AI (artificial intelligence) writing tools that offer to boost a writer’s flow and cohesion are like using a goat instead of a horse. Certainly, software such as Grammarly or Google Translate, will go much further than simply spell-checking a piece of copy; they try to check balance and vocabulary too.

But they will never replace a human’s understanding of funny nuances, cheeky asides, well-known historical proverbs or unusual sayings, all the ‘stuff’ that makes writing interesting. And if it’s interesting, people will read it. A machine will simply write these things directly. At best this can render a sentence incomprehensible. At worst it could come up with a damaging or embarrassing line that you could live to regret.

Machines can not be relied on solely to write clearly and concisely, and to keep meaning, sense and accuracy in the way that a human can. The human brain is a wonderful tool that not even the greatest translation equipment can beat.

So don’t be afraid to use it.

To learn more, and to join Business Writing Academy, click here.
Empower yourself and your team