Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Spell-Check Won't Work.

Spell-Check Won't Work

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 9, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


One of the powerful tools provided with Word is the spell checker. As you are creating your documents, you may notice that Word doesn't always find spelling errors. There are two things you can check if this is the case.

First, if the misspelled words are in uppercase, you may have spell checking turned off for words that are all in uppercase. To turn on this capability, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Proofing. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The proofing options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Ignore Words in UPPERCASE check box is cleared.
  5. Click on OK.

Next, if entire paragraphs are being ignored, it could be because proofing has been turned off for the paragraph. Follow these steps to correct this problem:

  1. Select the paragraph in question.
  2. Display the Review tab of the ribbon.
  3. If you're using Word 2007, click the Set Language tool in the Proofing group. In Word 2010 and later versions, click Language in the Language group and select Set Proofing Language from the resulting drop-down menu. Word displays the Language dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Language dialog box.

  5. Clear the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar check box.
  6. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6278) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Spell-Check Won't Work.

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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What is 7 + 1?

2017-06-14 16:52:24

Farshid Tafazoli

To fix it simply press CTRL+A and then SHIFT+F1. In the opened bar on the right side of the document, under the fonts section click on LANGUAGE and from the opened windows choose English (United States) as the default font, make sure that the 'DO NOT CHECK SPELLING OR GRAMMAR' is UNCHECKED, then click on set as default. You can now browse the entire document and look for spelling errors as it will be back working.

2017-02-27 02:58:48

Ken Endacott

Here is a few more things to check.

1. “Spell checking as you type” must be checked. It is a specific to the user’s Word installation. The title is misleading, if unchecked spell checking continues but spelling errors are not flagged.
File > Options > Proofing > Check Spelling as you type

2. “Hide spelling errors in this document” must be unchecked. It is specific to the document.
File > Options > Proofing > Hide spelling errors in this document

3. The word is not in the default language dictionary.
Review tab > Language > Set Proofing Language

4. The word is not in a custom dictionary.
File > Options > Proofing > Custom Dictionaries

5. The word is not in a foreign language dictionary that is applied to all or part of the text.
Review tab > Language > Language Preferences

6. The word is otherwise valid but is in the Exclude Dictionary.
Edit exclusion words in the .lex file for the default dictionary, with a text editor

7. There must be fewer than 1400 spelling plus grammar errors in the document.
Review tab > Spelling & Grammar. Step through spelling errors one by one

8. The individual word is not flagged to be ignored.
Right click word and chose Ignore. Also see Review tab > Spelling & Grammar

9. The word is not in a block of text flagged with NoProofing.
Review tab > Language > Set Proofing Language > Do not check Spelling or Grammar

10 The paragraph’s style does not have ‘Do not check spelling or grammar’ set.
Style > Modify > Format > Language > Do not check Spelling or Grammar

2017-02-26 19:13:18


Unfortunately none of these tips worked. I have had this problem for a year now. Very frustrating especially when I am studying and have papers to write! It will work when I open a document that was created on another computer i.e. at tech, but nothing created on my laptop. I use Office 360, have a feeling it was from when I installed that. Any further suggestions?

2017-02-24 13:09:08


Thanks. Been getting your tips for years. This is the only one that worked for spell check not working.
What an annoying feature in Word 2013.


2016-11-03 11:23:52


Had same problem and could not see why Word was not highlighting spelling errors. The noticed under 'When correcting spelling and grammar in word' in 'Proofing' section that 'Exceptions for' had my file listed?? NO idea why but unchecked 'Hide spelling..' and 'Hide grammar ..' and all is well !

2016-10-31 13:32:11


This doesnt appea to sold the problem when you have merge fields i still find it wont speall check the text within a mergefield, can you explain why?

2016-10-24 06:59:55


Thank you! I've been trying to find out why this is happening for weeks now and this has solved it.

2016-09-28 04:36:03


Thank you so much!! I was struggling with this so much and I have a major paper due next week. This was very helpful.

2016-08-07 12:26:32


Is there a way you can use spellcheck when all your text is within a table?

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