applied tips : april 2009

microsoft word : spell check exposed

In Microsoft Word, spelling mistakes are immediately identified with a red “squiggle” underline, for example: .

Likewise, grammar mistakes are indicated with a green “squiggle” and include wrongly conjugated verbs, plurality errors, extra spacing, incorrect punctuation, and more.  You can right-click on the green-underlined area for an explanation of the mistake. In Word 2007, contextual mistakes are identified in blue (if this feature is enabled).

Correct a mistake by right-clicking the incorrect word (or punctuation) and choosing the best option. 

If you wish to scan the entire document for spelling and grammatical errors, press F7. Or, in Word 2003 click the Spelling and Grammar icon  from the standard toolbar, and in Word 2007 display the Review tab and click Spelling and Grammar.

Adding Words to the Dictionary

If you wish to add a correctly-spelled word (such as your last name) to your personal dictionary, you can right-click the word and choose “Add to Dictionary”. Word, Outlook, and all of Microsoft Office share the same personal dictionary.

If there’s a word you’re always misspelling, and want Word to start automatically correcting you without your intervention, choose “AutoCorrect” from the right-click menu when you’ve misspelled a word. Choose the correct replacement, and Word will do that for you automatically.

Spelling and Grammar Options

Both Word 2003 and Word 2007 have a variety of options for the Spelling and Grammar feature, and it’s worth your time to review them.

To access these options in Word 2003, from the Tools menu choose Options and click on the Spelling and Grammar tab.  In Word 2007, display the Office menu and click Word Options, then Proofing.


Here are two of the more common options and their recommended settings:

If you click “Settings” next to the Writing Style option, you can specify how aggressive you want Word to proof-read your document in regards to grammar and recommended guidelines. Specific rules, such as enforcing one (or two) spaces after a period, can be enabled or disabled.

Press F1 while displaying the Spelling and Grammar options for help on any of the options you see.

Recheck Document

The “Check Document” (in Word 2003) and “Recheck Document” (in Word 2007) buttons, found in Options, are useful to force Word to reset all words and phrases that were ignored during previous spell checks.

Setting a Language

If an entire block of text contains content in a different language, or is formatted in such a way to show dozens of errors that are technically correct, you could tell Word to spell/grammar check that part of your document differently.

To specify that text is a different language in Word 2003, select the text and from the Tools menu choose Language, then Set Language. In Word 2007, select the text and from the Review tab, choose “Set Language”.

In the dialog box that appears, choose an alternative language and Word will use that language’s dictionary for spelling and grammar when checking that area of your document. Note that by default, most dictionaries are not installed on your computer. Installed dictionaries are identified with a  symbol and appear at the top of your list. If you select a language without an installed dictionary, Word will just ignore spelling and grammar for that section.

If you have a section of text that should not be checked at all, check the box “Do not check spelling or grammar”. This is useful for content like:

To revert back to normal checking, select the text again and clear the “Do not check spelling or grammar” checkbox.

schedule a class on word

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upcoming classes on word

Classes on Microsoft Word are scheduled at University of the Pacific, and you can attend!  Review the Upcoming Classes for more information.