Setting Spell Check Options: MS Word

Dennis Faas's picture

Have you noticed wavy red or green underlines under certain words in a document? That's the sign that MS Word's automatic spelling checker (red) and grammar checker (green) are at work. MS Word has flagged these items as possible mistakes, allowing you to see at a glance where possible errors are.

Office has an extensive dictionary against which it checks all the words in your document. Whenever it finds a word that is not in its dictionary, it flags the word with a red wavy underline.

Proofreading a document is time-consuming, and it's easy to miss finding mistakes in your own writing. Nevertheless, finding and correcting spelling and grammar errors is important. A document with misspelled words or grammar errors communicates that the writer is either stupid or careless -- neither of which enhances your professional image.

To use the automatic spelling checker, you first have to make sure it's turned on. Do you see any red wavy underlines? Then you know it's turned on. If not, follow the steps below:

  1. Choose Tools | Options, and click the Spelling & Grammar tab so you see the dialog box.
  2. Select the two check boxes to turn on automatic spelling and grammar checking.

Word places the Spelling and Grammar Status icon on the status bar and begins checking the document. If errors are found, the icon shows a red X.

To make corrections, you'll use the shortcut menu.

From here you can choose from six options:

  • One or more similar, correctly spelled words from the dictionary, which you can click to make the change in the document.
  • Ignore All removes the wavy redlining from all instances of this spelling in the current document -- use this when you don't want to make a change, such as for a proper noun.
  • Add to the Dictionary adds the word to a custom dictionary, so it will never be flagged again Use this for your name, company name, etc.
  • AutoCorrect sets up Word to make the correction while you type.
  • Language allows you to specify what language you're checking. (Office has dictionaries for many languages).
  • Spelling opens the Spelling and Grammar dialog box to check the entire document at once.

Right-Click Menu

  1. Right-click any flagged word or phrase.
  2. Click one of the choices to correct or ignore the error, and the wavy underlining goes away.
  3. Double-click the Spelling and Grammar Status icon on the status bar to jump to the next error and automatically open the shortcut menu.

Grammar errors are handled in the same way.

Suggested ways to correct the flagged item are often given, or you can ignore the error or get more information on the grammar rule that Office thinks you're violated.

When you've corrected or ignored all the errors in the document, the wavy underlining goes away and the icon on the status bar shows a red check mark.

You can also click F7 which is a nifty little shortcut to start your spelling check.

Visit Carol's web site to learn more tips like this one!

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