Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Limiting a Spelling Check.

Limiting a Spelling Check

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 30, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Cathy routinely creates 1000+ page documents with table names and abbreviations that stop Word's spellchecker in its tracks. Checking the spelling of such huge documents is very time-consuming, and Cathy feels it would be much more efficient if she could skip certain sections of text in the document. She wondered if there is a way to make the spelling checker skip over sections of text and begin or resume its review at a spot that she can determine manually.

There are two things you can try. First of all, if your abbreviations are standardized in any manner, such that they are used in lots of your documents, just add the abbreviations to the custom dictionary used by the spelling checker. While this may take a while, it will mean much faster spell checking as your custom dictionary grows to be more representative of the types of documents you create.

The second thing to try is based on the reality that, in Word, "language" is a text attribute, like typeface or color. Word's spell checker determines how to check text based on the language in which the text has been formatted. Thus, if you have French and English in the same document, Word will check the whole document in one pass, switching language tools based on the language formatting applied to different parts of text.

If you don't want Word to check the spelling of certain text, it can be formatted as "No Proofing," which can be viewed as just another language designation for that text. To do this select the text, display the Review tab of the ribbon, click Set Language in the Proofing group, then choose the Do Not Check Spelling checkbox.

If you want to turn off proofing for large sections of your document, you may want to define a paragraph style that has the proofing turned off. This style can then be easily applied to various paragraphs, as needed. For instance, you could have a style called Body Text, and then create a new style, based on Body Text, called Body Text NP. The only difference would be that the Body Text NP style would have proofing turned off. Once you were satisfied with the spelling and grammar in a paragraph, switch that paragraph's style to Body Text NP, and it won't be checked in the future.

If you prefer to use a macro to explicitly turn off proofing for a block of text, the following will work just fine. Select the text you want to format in this manner, and then run the macro.

Sub NoProofing()
    Selection.NoProofing = True
End Sub

The only possibly unpleasant artifact of turning off proofing for text is that Word's automatic hyphenation tool will not work for text formatting in that way.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10974) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Limiting a Spelling Check.

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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