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: Adding Phrases to the Grammar Checker.

Adding Phrases to the Grammar Checker

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 2, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Sheryl wonders if it is possible to add commonly used phrases to the grammar check so that they are not flagged as errors. Word flags them as either "wordy" or using too many nouns or verbs in a row, but her job requires documents with these phrases. Sheryl notes that the solution may be to turn off the grammar check, which she'd rather not do (even though Word is not exactly the perfect arbiter of good grammar).

There is not really a good way to do this in Word. You could, if desired, modify the grammar options to exclude some of the individual settings so that some of the items aren't checked by the grammar checker. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, 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 (you may need to scroll down to see it). Word displays the Grammar Settings dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Grammar Settings dialog box.

  6. Make the changes you want to make in the list of options.
  7. Click on OK to close the Grammar Settings dialog box.
  8. Click on OK to close the Word Options dialog box.

For the issues described by Sheryl, you'll want to pay particular attention to the following options in step 4:

  • Clichés, colloquialisms, and jargon
  • Sentence structure
  • Successive nouns (more than three)
  • Unclear phrasing
  • Wordiness

Disabling all or a combination of these options may resolve the problem. If it doesn't, then the best solution is to follow these general steps:

  1. Type a phrase that you use on a regular basis.
  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. Click the Language tool in the Language group and then click the Set Proofing Language option. (Click the Set Language tool in the Proofing group in older versions of Word.) Word displays the Language dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  5. Figure 3. The Language dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar check box is selected.
  7. Click OK.
  8. With the phrase still selected, press Alt+F3. Word displays the Create New Building Block dialog box. (See Figure 4.)
  9. Figure 4. The Create New Building Block dialog box.

  10. Click OK. Word creates a Building Block entry for the phrase.
  11. Delete the phrase you typed in step 1.

Now you can insert the Building Blocks in your document, as needed, and they won't be checked by the grammar checker. (Creating and using Building Blocks have been covered in other issues of WordTips.) This is a bit more work than disabling a few grammar options, but it has the added benefit of providing a standardized way of making sure your spelling and capitalization is always correct on those phrases.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8717) 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: Adding Phrases to the Grammar Checker.

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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