Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Allowing Sentence Fragments.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 22, 2017)
Maggie notes that in fiction writing it is acceptable to have sentence fragments within dialogue, as that is how we often speak. This makes her wonder if there is a way to set Word's automatic grammar checker to not flag sentence fragments that occur between quotation marks.
You can, if you'd like, configure the grammar checker so that it does not flag sentence fragments. Follow these steps:
Figure 1. The Proofing options of the Word Options dialog box.
Figure 2. The Grammar Settings dialog box.
There are a couple of drawbacks to doing this, though. First of all, Word will ignore all sentence fragments, regardless of where they occur—between quotation marks or not. Secondly, Word also will ignore any run-on sentences it may detect.
If these drawbacks are unacceptable for your purposes, you may want to try a different approach. If it suits your writing (if you don't have that many fragments), you might consider prefacing them with ellipses. Word magically ignores a fragment that has ellipses in from of it.
Another option is to define a new character style that you use just for your in-dialogue fragments. Define the style so that it doesn't do grammar checking, and then apply it to the fragments. This has the added benefit of allowing Word to flag any out-of-dialogue fragments that may exist in your prose.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6209) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Allowing Sentence Fragments.
The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!
Word's grammar checker can help you correct many of the more common errors that can crop up while writing. This includes ...Discover More
Word, in its never-ending quest to second-guess and try to improve your writing, may be marking your contractions as ...Discover More
If you find the green and red squiggly underlines that Word adds to your document distracting, you might want a quick way ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.