Spell Checker

You may rely on Word's spell checker as a first line of defense against spelling errors and therefore need to customize how Word performs its checks. Fortunately, you can instruct Word to treat certain words or phrases how you would like. Use the following articles to learn how to use Word's spell checker to conveniently edit your documents.

Tips, Tricks, and Answers

The following articles are available for the 'Spell Checker' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.

   Adding Ampersands to Custom Dictionaries
It appears that Word doesn't allow you to define custom dictionary entries that include ampersands. There are ways you can work around this apparent problem, including a way that relies on AutoCorrect to mark your text so it is ignored by the proofing tools.

   Adding Hyphenated Words to the Dictionary
When you hyphenate words, does the resulting compound word end up being marked as incorrectly spelled? This tip examines what may be causing the issue and what (if anything) you can do about it.

   Backing Up Your Custom Dictionaries
When you work with the spelling checker quite a bit, you eventually end up with a sizeable custom dictionary. You might want to back up that dictionary for some reason, but not know where to find it. Here's what you need to do.

   Cannot Add Words to Dictionary
We all run across words that are spelled correctly, but that Word isn't aware of. The solution is to add those words to the custom dictionary. What if Word won't let you add the words, however?

   Catching Single-Letter Spelling Errors
There have been times when I've reviewed my writing and found lots of "lone letters," detached by a single space from the words to which they belong. Word, however, didn't mark these lone letters as spelling errors. Here's why, along with how you can approach this problem.

   Compiling Misspelled Words from Documents
Word keeps track of the words that may be misspelled in a document. If you are working with a lot of documents, you may want to create a list of all misspelled words in those documents. This tip features a macro that makes compiling that list easy.

   Configuring Spell Check for Internet Addresses
When writing technical documents, URLs are a common thing to include in your text. Normally Word will mark these as incorrectly spelled. You can, however, configure Word so that it ignores them.

   Creating a Spelling Exclusion List
Don't like it when Word always says a word is spelled right and you know that it isn't? Here's how you can fine-tune the spell checker by using custom exclude lists.

   Dictionary Shortcut Key
Need a quick way to display the dictionary or other grammar tools? Use one of the handy built-in shortcuts provided by Word.

   Editing Custom Dictionaries
Custom dictionaries can be great, but they take quite a bit of time to create. Word provides a way you can edit your custom dictionaries, or you can simply edit one using a text editor. This tip shows how to make the changes.

   Editing While Spell-Checking
When you run a spell-check on a document, you may end up seeing other things that need to be edited. Never fear; you can do the edits without jumping out of the in-process spell-check.

   Ensuring that Spell Checking is Enabled in All Styles
Ever want to enable spell checking in all of the styles within a document, but don't want to check each and every one individually? Here are some ideas you can use to make sure that all the styles in a document (or template) don't turn off the spell checking of a paragraph.

   Expanding a Custom Dictionary
Does Word tell you that your custom dictionary is full? It might not actually be full, but even if it is you can add another custom dictionary to those that Word uses.

   Fast Spelling Corrections
Want to correct the spelling of a word that Word thinks is improperly spelled? A quick way to do it is to right-click the misspelled word, as explained in this tip.

   Forcing a Complete Spelling and Grammar Check
There are a couple of ways that various parts of a document can have spelling and grammar checking "turned off." This tip examines how to override those settings and perform a desired check of your entire document.

   Forcing Word to Display Spelling and Grammar Errors
If your document has enough spelling errors in it, Word informs you that you have too many and then refuses to display the rest of the errors it knows are there. This tip explains why this happens and provides information on how you can possibly work around the error message.

   Hiding Errors
If you find the green and red squiggly underlines that Word adds to your document distracting, you might want a quick way to hide them. Here's the absolute fastest way to get them out of your sight.

   Hiding Spelling Errors
When you are typing in a document, Word normally checks your spelling in the background, marking possible spelling errors as you go. If the markings bother you, here's how you can turn them off.

   Ignore Setting on Misspelled Words not Persistent
When Word flags a word as misspelled, you have some options of how to handle it. This tip explains those options and provides some ideas on how to make Word ignore, persistently, those misspelled words.

   Ignoring the Spelling of Proper Nouns
Proper nouns (such as the names of people) are routinely marked as incorrect by Word's spell checker. If you are tired of them being marked incorrectly, you may be interested in the ideas presented in this tip.

   Ignoring Words Containing Numbers
If your writing often contains words that include numbers, you'll want to make sure you set up the spelling checker to ignore them. Here's how to do it.

   Keeping Words in the Custom Dictionary
The spell checker that is part of Word allows you to create and use custom dictionaries to expand how the checker does its work. It can be frustrating, though, if you add words to the dictionary only to later find that Word doesn't recognize those words. Here are some ideas on why this may happen.

   Limiting a Spelling Check
When you perform a spelling check, Word typically checks everything in your document. If you want to limit what is checked, the key is to understand how Word determines what should be checked and what shouldn't. This tip examines how you can place limits on what is being checked.

   Limiting Spell Checking
Spell check a document, and Word normally checks several different dictionaries. Here's how to limit the dictionary consulted by Word when doing the check.

   Making Ignore All Work for a Document on All Systems
When you tell Word's spell checker to ignore all instances of a misspelling, you may expect that the misspelling will be ignored on other systems that may open the document. This isn't how Word works, however. This tip explains what you can do to get the results you want.

   Making Spell Check Ignore Characters
The rules of professional editing often require that editorial changes in a quote be noted with brackets. These brackets, while essential, cause problems with Word's spelling checker. This tip discusses some options to remove those problems.

   Merging Custom Dictionaries
It is possible to develop a custom dictionary on your computer that reflects the types of documents with which you work most often. If you have several people in your office, at some point you may want to take each person's custom dictionary and combine them into a single dictionary that reflects the way everyone works. Here's how to do it.

   Normal Words Flagged by Spell Check
What do you do when Word's spelling check marks some common, everyday words as wrong? Here are some ideas of places you can check.

   Rechecking Spelling and Grammar
If you ever need to check the spelling or grammar of a document from scratch, it can be confusing knowing the proper steps to follow. Here's how you can instruct Word to start checking all over, with a clean slate.

   Resetting Spelling and Grammar Checking on Multiple Documents
Things that are accomplished easily with a single document (such as resetting spelling and grammar checking settings) can quickly become tedious if you need to work with multiple documents. This tip provides a simple macro that can make processing multiple documents fast and easy.

   Setting Spell-Checking Options
Like many things in Word, you can configure the way the spelling checker does its job. If you want to exercise more control over the spelling checker, use the steps in this tip.

   Spell Check Misses Misspelled Words
If you do a spelling check and notice that Word doesn't catch a word that you know is misspelled, it is easy to get frustrated. The reasons for the misses could be many, as explored in this tip.

   Spell Checking Forms
Word may be used to create protected forms that limit where the user may input data. Normally spell checking is disabled in protected documents. This tip shows how to enable spell checking in protected forms.

   Spell Checking Only Checking Grammar
Word has a built-in spelling and grammar checker that can help reduce errors in your prose. It may be a bit confusing if your spelling checker stops working, but the grammar checker keeps plugging along. Here are some ideas on things you can check to correct this condition.

   Spell Checking when Closing Documents
When you close a document, you might want to do one final check of the spelling, just to make sure that you didn't miss anything. Using one of Word's automatic macros (AutoClose) you can make sure that the final spelling check is done.

   Spell Checking Your Document
One of the final touches that many people perform is to check the spelling of their document. This can help improve the document's quality and save you from potentially embarrassing gaffes. Here's how you can quickly check your document's spelling.

   Spell-Check Won't Work
Having problems making spell check work on a portion of your document? There are two primary causes for such an occurrence, and both causes are discussed in this tip.

   Spell-Checking Abbreviations
Need to make sure that Word includes abbreviations when you check a document's spelling? Here's how to make sure that those abbreviations are not left out.

   Spell-Checking from the Keyboard
If you hate to take your hands from the keyboard, even to right-click on a word, you'll love the information in this tip. You'll discover that you need the mouse even less than you thought!

   Spell-checking Uppercase Words
When Word checks the spelling of a document, it can either check or ignore words that are in uppercase letters. Here's how to throw the switch that controls this option.

   Spellcheck for Two Languages
Are you creating a document that mixes different languages? Word can handle the multi-language scenario, but it may take a bit of work on your part to have that handling occur seamlessly.

   Spellchecking Words with Superscripts
Adding a superscript to a word is necessary for many types of writing. Doing so, however, can confuse the spell checker in Word. Here's one way to get around this problem.

   Spelling Errors on Internet Addresses
Tired of Word marking Internet addresses as spelling errors? You can turn off this check by applying the steps in this tip.

   Spelling Errors Resulting from Erroneous Spaces
Spelling errors can result from improperly ordering letters in a word, or from adding spaces where they shouldn't be. This tip examines how you can correct spelling errors when you add those extra spaces in the middle of words.

   Symbols in Words Added to the Dictionary
Adding special characters to otherwise normal words, such as a company name, may be necessary. However, this could affect how Word understands and interprets the word.

   Turning Off Proofing for Superscripts
When you add superscripts to words in your document, you may not want those superscripts to be spell-checked. Here's how to disable the checking of your superscripts.

   Turning Off Spell Checking
For some documents, you may not want spell checking turned on. There are two ways that you can turn it off, depending on whether you want to affect the entire document or only a portion of one. This tip covers both methods.

   Updating the Spelling Exclusion List Automatically
Want to add words easily to the spelling exclusion list? Here's a macro that can make the task completely painless.

   Word Marks Mixed Case Acronyms as Incorrect
Many acronyms (such as DoD) are considered correct when they used mixed uppercase and lowercase. Word may not seem them as correct, however. This tip examines what may actually be happening when the acronyms are marked as incorrect.

   Words Disappear from the Custom Dictionary
The spell-checking tool built into Word allows you to easily add words to a custom dictionary. What happens, though, if those words all of a sudden become unavailable to use? The problem may be linked to an update process used by Microsoft, as explained in this tip.

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.