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Get to the Point!

Is Google Better Than a Dictionary?

By Theda C. Snyder

“Get to the Point!” is a huge fan of working the heck out of your dictionary, thesaurus and usage guide to improve your writing. But is Google better? The answer is “sometimes.”

Asking for the Wrong Thing

Many apps and programs are unforgiving of spelling or typographical errors. “No results” or the equivalent is the unhelpful response to an incorrect spelling.

But Google and some other programs and sites such as Wikipedia are tolerant of the fumble-fingered, asking “Did you mean …?” or “Showing results for … “ while also offering the option to “Search instead” for the weird word or phrase you actually entered. The latter option can be helpful if you are searching for specific instances of an incorrect or unusual spelling.

Incomplete Reference Materials

Not every term is in the dictionary you are probably using. Historic, technical or foreign terms may not come up. For example, I was trying to decipher a reference in a real estate description. My dictionary had no entry for a “camsiled” apartment, but Google told me it meant there was a sloped ceiling.

And then there’s this. When I spell-checked this post with Microsoft Word, “camsiled” was tagged as “not in the dictionary.” Tell that to Google!

I frequently need to look up terms while reviewing medical records. The dictionary has often let me down, but Google tells me what I need to know.

More Than Words

Another advantage of Google over a dictionary is the range of results over multiple media. You may discover a helpful image, video (TED Talk, anyone?) or podcast.

Don’t Forsake Your Tools

Your dictionary and thesaurus, whether online or physical books, are still going to be your go-to helpers to answer a quick question. If they let you down, be thankful there’s Google.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workplace injury and workers’ compensation cases throughout California. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 3rd Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Amazon.com. Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at WCMediator.com and on Twitter @WCMediator.

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