Microsoft Word’s built-in spelling and grammar checking tools work automatically most of the time, but there are many ways to customize them. You can even use AutoCorrect to speed up your typing.
In-line Spell Checking
By default, Word will use in-line spell checking. Words you misspell will appear with a red squiggly underline — just right-click the word you meant to type to correct each typo.
Of course, Word doesn’t know every word that exists — especially names of things. To have Word ignore a “misspelling” that is actually correct for the current document, select Ignore All. If you plan on using the word a lot, click Add to Dictionary and Word will remember the word in the future.
In-line Grammar Checking
Grammar checking works the same way, but grammar errors will be marked with a blue squiggly underline. To manage settings for spell and grammar checking, visit the FILE > Options > Proofing pane.
Manual Spell and Grammar Checking
To spell-and-grammar-check an entire document, click the REVIEW tab and click the Spelling & Grammar button — or just press F7. Word will go through your spelling mistakes one by one and allow you to fix them. This saves you time — you don’t have to painstakingly scroll through the document and look for all the red and blue squiggly underlines.
To “unignore” words you’ve ignored in the current document, causing Word to flag them as misspellings again, navigate to FILE > Options > Proofing and click the Recheck Document button.
Manage Your Custom Dictionary
You may accidentally add a word to your custom dictionary and want to remove it, or you may just want to clean up your custom dictionary later. To do this, click FILE > Options > Proofing > Custom Dictionaries > Edit Word List. You’ll see a list of words added to your custom dictionary and you can remove any of them.
Change Your Language
You may want run spelling and grammar checks in a different language. To do this, click the REVIEW tab, click the Language button, and click Set Proofing Language. Languages you have installed will have a little icon to the left of their names, indicating you can switch to them immediately. You can also set a language as your default language for future documents from here.
Install New Dictionaries
If you don’t have a dictionary installed, no problem — select a language from the Set Proofing Language dialog and Word will offer to download and install the dictionaries for the selected language.
Disable the Spell Checker
You may want to disable the spell checker entirely when working on documents that contain a lot of words Word doesn’t understand. To disable spell-checking, click FILE > Options > Proofing.
From this dialog, you can disable “Check spelling as you type” and Word will only check spelling when you click the Spelling & Grammar button. Those red squiggly lines won’t appear. Alternative, you can disable spellcheck entirely for only the current document — just enable the “Hide spelling errors in this document only” check box at the bottom of the window.
And you can control spell-check on a per-paragraph basis. Select some text, and then click the Set Proofing Language button under REVIEW > Language. Use the options in the dialog box to disable spell-check for the selected text.
The AutoCorrect feature can automatically replace words you type with correctly spelled words. It’s enabled by default, replacing common misspellings like “realyl” with “really.” You can disable AutoCorrect or manage the list of automatically corrected words and add your own.
This also allows you to speed up typing — for example, if you frequently type a sentence like “Hello, my name is Bob Smith,” you could create an AutoCorrect rule that expands “hmbs” to “Hello, my name is Bob Smith” when you type it. This is known as text expansion.
To manage AutoCorrect, click FILE > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options.
PowerPoint, Excel, and Other Office Applications
PowerPoint also uses in-line spell checking and everything works about the same. However, Microsoft Excel — which is frequently used for other types of data — won’t automatically inform you about errors with a squiggly underline. In Excel, you’ll have to run a manual spell check from REVIEW > Spelling on the ribbon to see spelling errors.
Most of the other settings here are also found in other Office applications, and Office actually shares many of these settings between its different applications. The tips above don’t just apply to Word!
What are some funny or out of place corrections you have come across with default spell checkers?
Image Credit: Ryan Hyde on Flickr