Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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: Correctly Repeated Words.

Correctly Repeated Words

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 27, 2018)

Word has a spell checker that tries to helpfully point out potential errors in your documents. For most people, the potential errors are marked with a red underline. As detailed in other issues of WordTips, you can modify how the spell checker does its work by adding words to a custom dictionary, or by creating an exclusion file. One of the spelling errors that Word always marks, however, is double words. Type in "the the," and Word underlines the second "the" as being incorrect.

A problem crops up when words really should be duplicated. For instance, if you type in the name "Walla Walla," a city in Washington State, the second "Walla" is marked as a spelling error because the word is repeated. There is no way to turn off this spelling check, and there is no way to add the double word (Walla Walla) to the dictionary as a correct word. Even if you open the custom dictionary and add "Walla Walla" to it, the word is still marked as incorrect by the spell checker.

The only solution is to trick Word into thinking that Walla Walla is a single word. You can do this by using a non-breaking space between the first "Walla" and the second. (A non-breaking space is created by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Space.) The word is not marked as incorrect by the spell checker once this is done. The drawback, of course, is that the phrase is now treated as a single word, which will affect how line breaks occur—if a line break would normally occur between the first "Walla" and the second, the entire phrase will now be shifted to the second line.

Another way to solve the problem is to mark the text so that there is no grammar or spell checking done on it. You can then create an AutoText entry for the phrase so that when you enter a short mnemonic, the full phrase—marked for no grammar or spell checking—is inserted in the document. Follow these steps:

  1. Type the phrase "Walla Walla", without the quote marks. The second word should be underlined as a spelling error.
  2. Select the phrase, making sure not to include any spaces or punctuation after the phrase.
  3. Display the Review tab of the ribbon.
  4. If you are using Word 2010 or a later version, click the Language tool, in the Language group, and click the Set Proofing Language option. If you are using Word 2007, click the Set Language tool in the Proofing group. Word displays the Language dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Language dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar check box is selected.
  7. Click OK. The red line under the second instance of "Walla" should disappear.
  8. With the phrase still selected, press Alt+F3. Word displays the Create New Building Block dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  9. Figure 2. The Create New Building Block dialog box.

  10. Click OK. Word creates an AutoText entry for the phrase.
  11. Delete the phrase you typed in step 1.

At this point, when you start to type "Walla Walla," Word displays an AutoComplete prompt. This prompt appears after typing the fourth letter. Press Enter at that point, and Word completes the phrase, as if you had typed "Walla Walla". The difference is that the phrase, as completed by Word, has the spelling and grammar checking turned off, so you don't see the incorrect spelling error noted.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7548) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Correctly Repeated Words.

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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