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: Enforcing a Do-Not-Use Word List.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 31, 2018)
Rohan works for a company that is using a new method of writing letters involving a list of approximately a hundred 'complex' words that must never be used when writing. He is looking for the best way to be alerted if any of the words on the list are used in a document.
There are several ways that this can be accomplished, and the best choice will depend on how work is done in your office, along with personal preference. For instance, one simple way to handle the words is to add them to what Word calls your "exclude" dictionary. Basically, this is a way of modifying the files used by the spell checker so that a particular word is always marked as incorrectly spelled. If you add the hundred words to the exclude list, then they will always be marked as incorrectly spelled. How you add words to the exclusion dictionary has been covered in other issues of WordTips. You can find information here:
Similar information is also available at the Word MVP site, here:
Another way you could approach your list is to create AutoCorrect entries for each of the words. When one of the words is typed, you could have it automatically replaced with a version of the word that is in some noticeable format that will call attention to the fact that the word was used. If you prefer, you could also simply have the word replaced with a space, which would mean that the offending word is automatically "erased" whenever it is typed.
There are also macro approaches that you could use. These would, primarily, be helpful to run at various points in the development of the document. The macro could do just about anything you decide it should do. For instance, it might simply collect the offending words that were found in the document and notify you that they were found, without actually making any changes. The following macro will do just that.
Sub DoNotUseList() Dim Word As Range Dim ForbiddenWords(2) As String Dim ForbiddenWord As Variant Dim BadList As String ' Populate array with forbidden words ' Remember to modify the size of the array above ForbiddenWords(0) = "cat" ForbiddenWords(1) = "dog" ForbiddenWords(2) = "mouse" BadList = "The following forbidden words have been identified:" For Each Word In ActiveDocument.Words For Each ForbiddenWord In ForbiddenWords If LCase(Trim(Word.Text)) = ForbiddenWord Then BadList = BadList & vbCrLf & ForbiddenWord End If Next Next MsgBox BadList, vbOKOnly, "Forbidden Words" End Sub
To change the words that are on the forbidden list, simply change the size and contents of the ForbiddenWords array. You should make sure that there are no capital letters and no phrases in the array contents. When you run the macro, each of the words in the document is checked against each of the forbidden words, and you are notified at the end if there are any found.
Other similar macro-based ways to handle this type of problem have been presented in other issues of WordTips:
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11329) 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: Enforcing a Do-Not-Use Word List.
The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!
Does it bother you that when you press Ctrl+Page Up or Ctrl+Page Down you aren't always taken to the top of the previous ...Discover More
If you have a word that includes punctuation as part of the word itself, then you may be frustrated by how Word treats ...Discover More
Cross-referencing has long been a capability in Word documents. You can easily add and remove cross-references but ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.