Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Ignoring Punctuation in Names.

Ignoring Punctuation in Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 20, 2017)


Many companies these days are coming out with product names that include some sort of punctuation. We are all familiar with Yahoo! and how they added the exclamation mark (as a formal part of the company name), probably to denote excitement. Many other companies are doing the same thing. This is all fine and good from a marketing standpoint, but it can cause misery when you are trying to do a spelling and grammar check in Word.

When Word does a spell check, it ignores all punctuation. Thus, even if you add the product name (with the punctuation mark) to the custom dictionary, it still ignores the punctuation and finds a spelling error during the spell check. Later, when it does a grammar check, it doesn't ignore the punctuation, and it considers the punctuation (in this case an exclamation point) as the end of the sentence. Instead of viewing your sentence as a whole, Word treats it as two fragments and generates the appropriate grammar warnings. If you have a document with your product name used many times, this can be a real pain!

Enterprising Word users may believe they can fix the problem by selecting the product name (with the punctuation) and setting the language to (no checking). The problem is that while Word will not find a spelling problem with the product name, it will still find a grammar problem because it sees the non-capitalized letter following the punctuation mark.

Believe it or not, there is a solution (besides changing the product name). The core part of the solution is to replace the exclamation mark with a symbol. That way, the grammar checker will ignore it when doing punctuation checks. Do the following:

  1. Type the product name without the exclamation mark.
  2. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click Symbol | More Symbols. Word displays the Symbol dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Symbol dialog box.

  5. In the Font drop-down list, select the Symbol font.
  6. In the list of symbols, choose the exclamation mark. It is the second character on the top row.
  7. Click the Insert button.
  8. Click Close.

You now have your exclamation mark that isn't really an exclamation mark, and Word ignores it during both spelling and grammar checking.

It also means that, if AutoCorrect As You Type is on and Word normally auto-corrects first letter capitalization for sentences, it will ignore the symbol version of the exclamation mark and not auto-correct where it's not required. In other words, the first word after the product name won't be automatically capitalized as you type.

The only remaining problem is that going through the Insert Symbol route is a bit too much like hard work. What would be better is to type the product name using the normal exclamation mark but have it automatically change itself to use the symbol version. Assuming the product name has been typed and the symbol exclamation mark added as above, then follow these steps:

  1. Select the product name including the symbol exclamation mark.
  2. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  3. Click Proofing at the left side of the dialog box.
  4. Click AutoCorrect Options. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box with the selected text already entered in the With box and the Formatted Text option already selected. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The AutoCorrect dialog box.

  6. In the Replace box type the product name with a normal exclamation mark.
  7. Click the Add button.
  8. Click Close to close the dialog box.

Now, typing the name and using a normal exclamation mark will result in that normal exclamation mark automatically changing to the symbol version—the spelling and grammar checkers will ignore it and so will automatic capitalization.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12054) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Ignoring Punctuation in Names.

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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What is nine minus 5?

2017-05-23 03:52:31

Richard Price

Jim Swindle, thanks for the additional information. I have Word 2016 MSO (16.0.7329.1054) 32-bit, which appears to be a bit newer than yours (unless 32-bit and 64-bit version numbers are out of sync), so I'm not sure my world is going to get better! In fact this problem with Wotton-under-Edge only started recently, perhaps within the last couple of months, and coincided with the grammar checker getting annoyingly stricter about several of its rules - for example, if you start a sentence with a word like 'However' or 'So' it now insists on a following comma, unless you turn off punctuation checking entirely, which never used to be the case. This again applies to both English (US) and English (UK).

To avoid being nagged about Wotton-under-Edge and 'So it follows' I'd have to turn off the grammar checks for Capitalization and Punctuation respectively, which seems like overkill and would disable some valuable checking for mistakes I actually care about. I have however turned off one or more of the grammar checks in the 'Clarity and Conciseness' set, which also became much stricter at the same time as the changes noted above.

2017-05-22 09:14:31

Jim Swindle

Richard Price, here's a postscript to my earlier comment. My version thinks Wotton-under-Edge, Wotton-Under-Edge, and Wotton-Under-edge are also correct. It does not like Wottony-undder-Edge. So, in this version, for checking the capitalization of that place, you're on your own.

2017-05-22 08:28:57

Jim Swindle

Richard Price, I have Word 2016 MSO (16.0.4498.1000) 64-bit. Its spelling and grammar checker likes both Wotton-under-Edge and Moreton-in-Marsh. That happens whether I set the proofing language to English - US or to English - UK. So, your world may get better.

2017-05-22 04:00:35

Richard Price

This is a useful tip, but only if the punctuation mark is in the Symbol font and its appearance there is a reasonable match to the font of the surrounding text. The exclamation mark looks OK with Times New Roman, but is not so good with Arial, for example.

I'd like a better solution for the Cotswold town of Wotton-under-Edge, which the grammar check regards as a title (because 'Edge' is capitalised), requiring 'under' to be capitalised as a long preposition (whereas Moreton-in-Marsh is acceptable). Using a Symbol hyphen avoids the grammar check failure but its appearance is too long (about the same as an en-dash) and too thin.

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