Making AutoCorrect Automatically Recognize the Replace Word

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 29, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


If Brian misspells a word, he often selects that word and opens AutoCorrect. The misspelled word then appears in the "With" box. Brian then has to cut it and paste it into the "Replace" box, and spell the word correctly in the "With" box. He wonders if there is any way to configure AutoCorrect so that the highlighted word appears automatically in the "Replace" box rather than the "With" box.

Word has some very interesting behavior in regards to where it places the selected text in the AutoCorrect dialog box. Testing has shown the following to occur:

  • If the word you select (including any trailing spaces, tabs, or carriage returns) is correctly spelled, then that word ends up in the "With" box.
  • If the word you select (including any trailing spaces) is incorrectly spelled, then that word ends up in the "Replace" box.
  • If the word you select is incorrectly spelled and your selection includes a trailing tab or a trailing carriage return, then the word ends up in the "With" box.

Based on this testing, it appears that Brian's problem is that he is selecting not only the misspelled word, but also a trailing tab or carriage return. The solution is to make sure that you don't include these trailing characters, then you'll notice that the misspelled word automatically appears in the "Replace" box, as desired.

If you have a hard time telling where the tabs and carriage returns are located in your document, then you may want to turn on the display of non-printing characters. The easiest way to do this is to click the Show/Hide tool on the toolbar; it looks like a backward P—technically called a pilcrow.

Another approach is to simply copy the misspelled word after you select it (press Ctrl+C). Then, when you display the AutoCorrect dialog box, you can paste the word (Ctrl+V) into either the "Replace" or "With" boxes, as desired.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13439) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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