Overview: Smart word prediction

Many people have difficulty with spelling, or would simply like to be able to type less. Software that completes words by offering a choice of correctly spelt alternatives - which will be familiar to many users from using predictive text on mobile phones or from websites that offer suggestions as you type in a search box - can often help.

Overview of word-prediction software

After you type the first few letters of a word, predictive software such as Penfriend gives a number of words starting with those letters (for information, see the Penfriend website). For example, in Fig 1 a list of possible words is displayed after 'Th' has been typed in; the choices available are in the order of those words that you most often type. To complete the word, you simply select one of the words offered; the complete word is then entered in the document.

Fig 1'Penfriend' window showing suggested words

Most word prediction software can anticipate common mis-spellings. Even if a word such as 'physics' is begun with the letters 'fiz', then the correct word will still be displayed in the list.

TextHelp Read&Write (for information, see the TextHelp Systems website) is software that has a number of advanced features that help with word prediction. These include checking words that sound the same (homophones) and providing speech output that allows you to have the text you are typing spoken back to you. The list of words offered can be spoken as well, which is useful for people who have difficulty reading or seeing.

A variety of other word-prediction and text-completion applications are also available. Some programmes, such as Microsoft Word, have simpler auto-correct features for common spelling mistakes and auto-text, in which you can create shortcuts for commonly used phrases.

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Back to How to guides - I find words difficult

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