Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Marking Gender-Specific Grammar.

Marking Gender-Specific Grammar

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 19, 2020)


For certain types of writing it is not proper to use gender-specific words. For instance, the needs of your document may require you to use words such as police officer rather than policeman. If you want, you can have Word's grammar checker draw your attention to most gender-specific word uses. To enable this checking, 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. Click the Proofing option at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Proofing options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Click the Settings button. Word displays the Grammar Settings dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Grammar Settings dialog box.

  6. Scroll through the Options list until you find the Style – Gender-Specific Language (Gender-Specific Word in earlier versions of Word) option. Make sure it is checked.
  7. Click on OK to close the Grammar Settings dialog box.
  8. Click on OK to close the Word Options dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7543) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Marking Gender-Specific Grammar.

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 1 + 3?

2020-12-22 12:29:19

Paul Stregevsky

David in Mississippi wrote:
"Thanks, Paul, but even if the checkbox labeled "Do not check spelling or grammar" IS checked, shouldn't it run the checker when you initiate it manually, as I did?"
Yes, the "inclusion" check should run at the document level. But it should skip over any paragraph of that style.
I assumed that you were testing the feature in a new document that had only one paragraph.

2020-12-22 09:29:55


David, quite simply when you mark text as not to be checked by the spelling and grammar checker you are basically telling Word never to have it checked--it is a formatting setting that excludes the checker from examining it whether it is run automatically in the background or manually. It has nothing to do with the tip being out of date, but with your having read into how Word has labeled the setting more (or less) than what is there.

2020-12-22 05:43:33

David in Mississippi

Thanks for that, Richard, but the question was not WHERE to find the checkbox. The question was why doesn't it work when the checkbox is checked and we manually run grammar checker?

It took some searching, because this tip is out of date, but I was able to find it. Thanks for the update.

2020-12-21 12:19:51

Richard Curtis

At step 4, in Word 365, Gender-Specific Language appears in an Inclusiveness heading (see Figure 1 below) .

Figure 1. Grammar Settings

2020-12-21 08:08:04

David in Mississippi

Thanks, Paul, but even if the checkbox labeled "Do not check spelling or grammar" IS checked, shouldn't it run the checker when you initiate it manually, as I did?

Signed, Scratching my Head

2020-12-20 10:46:48

Paul Stregevsky

David in Mississippi,
Yes, the instructions should include two additional steps:
In the paragraph style's language tab:
1. Make sure that the language is set to English (American English or another form).
2. Make sure that the checkbox labeled "Do not check spelling or grammar" is cleared.

2020-12-19 09:15:52

David in Mississippi

I just tried this and it DOESN'T WORK. I turned on the checkbox for "Gender-specific language," Clicked okay and okay. I added a sentence, "His account." to the document and ran the grammar checker. It did not find this gender-specific pronoun. Either I'm doing something wrong, or your instructions are incomplete, or the latest version of Word has a bug.

(see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. Showing check did not find gender-specific language

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