Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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.

Enforcing a Do-Not-Use Word List

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 27, 2017)

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

    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 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Enforcing a Do-Not-Use Word List.

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. ...


Converting to ASCII Text

When you work with imported or pasted data in an Excel worksheet, you may see some strange looking characters at times. ...

Discover More

Generating Unique, Sequential Names

Do you need to create a number of words or phrases where you only alter a few letters in each one? If the alterations ...

Discover More

Keyboard Shortcuts for Zooming

For whatever reason, Microsoft has never seen fit to provide built-in keyboard shortcuts zooming in and out. Here are ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Using Executive Summaries

An executive summary for a longer document may be a nice finishing touch. One of the lesser-known features of Word is ...

Discover More

Moving Master and Subdocuments

If you need to move master documents or subdocuments from one place to another on your computer, you have to keep in mind ...

Discover More

Understanding Master and Subdocuments

Most people use Word to create regular documents that you edit, view, and print. The program also allows you to create a ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 1 + 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

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.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.