Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Turning Off Proofing for Superscripts.

Turning Off Proofing for Superscripts

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 6, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Superscript text can be used for many purposes in a document. For instance, it is routinely used for footnote and endnote references. Some people use superscript text for "reference cues." These are not the same as regular footnote or endnote marks. For instance, the document may contain the text "productgreen" where "product" is normal text and "green" is superscript. The spell-check feature sees "productgreen" as one word and marks it as incorrect. If you use superscript in this manner frequently, this can result in an avalanche of spell-check errors in the document.

The easiest way to get around this problem is to simply search for all the superscript text in your document and turn off proofing for it. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Find and Replace dialog box with the Replace tab selected.
  2. Make sure the More button is selected, if available. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Erase any text in both the Find What and Replace With boxes.
  5. With the insertion point in the Find What box, click on the Format button, then choose Font. Word displays the Find Font dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Font tab of the Find Font dialog box.

  7. Make sure there is a dark checkmark in the Superscript check box.
  8. Click on OK.
  9. With the insertion point in the Replace With box, click on the Format button, then choose Language. Word displays the Replace Language dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  10. Figure 3. The Replace Language dialog box.

  11. In the list of available languages, make sure there is a dark checkmark next to the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar check box.
  12. Click on OK.
  13. Click on Replace All.

Word goes through the document and changes the language associated with any superscript text so it is exempt from the spell check or grammar checking features of Word.

For those of you who use styles, the even simpler approach is to set up a style for your reference cues, and then use it to format them. Follow these steps to set up the style:

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the small icon at the lower-right corner of the Styles group. Word displays the Styles task pane.
  3. Click on the New Style button in the lower-left corner of the task pane. Word displays the Create New Style from Formatting dialog box. (See Figure 4.)
  4. Figure 4. The Create New Style from Formatting dialog box.

  5. In the Name box, type a name for your new style, such as RefCue.
  6. Using the Style Type pull-down list, select the Character option.
  7. Click on Format, then choose Font. Word displays the Font dialog box. (See Figure 5.)
  8. Figure 5. The Font dialog box.

  9. Make sure there is a checkmark in the Superscript check box.
  10. Click on OK.
  11. Click on Format, then choose Language. Word displays the Language dialog box.
  12. Make sure there is a checkmark in the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar check box.
  13. Click on OK.
  14. Click on OK again. The new RefCue style has now been created.
  15. Close the Styles task pane.

With your new style defined, you simply need to apply it to any reference cue in your document. The style then takes care of superscripting your cues, as well as turning off proofing for them.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6109) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Turning Off Proofing for Superscripts.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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