Checking Spelling and Grammar


Now that you've stepped through all the basic formatting for your document, it's time to finish it up so that you can print or send it. But before you hit the print button, there are a few things that still need to be taken care of. After all, you want to make sure that your document is truly ready before you send it out.

Spelling and grammar check

This is the step that many Microsoft Word users are tempted to skip (even me). Don't, particularly if the document is going outside the office, either in print or via e-mail. The easiest way to kick off the spelling and grammar check function in Microsoft Word is to go to the Review tab and click on Spelling and Grammar on the far left end:

Word 2010 (same in 2013 and 2016)

Word 365

Be warned: by default, Microsoft Word Spell Checking feature in the desktop versions (not 365) also checks Grammar at the same time. If at any time the Grammar Check stops in what it believes is a grammatical error, you can click either of the Ignore buttons (as appropriate) or Next Sentence to move on, click Change to accept the suggestion being made, or click on Explain for the explanation of the grammatical rule you are (allegedly) breaking.

If Grammar Check is not appropriate for the document you're working on, or you simply find it annoying (as I do), you can uncheck the box next to Check Grammar and have Spell Check proceed to only check the spelling of your words. I'll show you in a moment how to turn off Grammar Check permanently if you wish, but first, let's see Spell Check in action:

In the above example, Spell Check has stopped on the word "Lorem." As with Grammar Check above, you can click either of the Ignore buttons if that's not actually a misspelled word, or click Add to Dictionary if that spelling is both correct and something you frequently use. If the word is misspelled, however, find the correct spelling in the Suggestions list and click either Change (to change adjust this instance of the misspelled word) or Change All (to change all of the instances of this misspelled word to the Suggestion you chose). If that particular misspelling is a typo that you frequently make, you can choose the correct Suggestion and click AutoCorrect to add that to the AutoCorrect dictionary, which will prompt Microsoft Word to correct that typo whenever you make it in future documents.

To end Spell Check, you can either complete it by going through the entire document as above or clicking Close to close the dialog box. If you spell check the entire document, a small confirmation message will pop up to let you know that Spell Check is complete.

Click OK to return to your document.

Customizing how Spell Check works

In any of the desktop versions of Word, if you go to the File tab and click on Options, then go to Proofing, you'll see some options for customizing how Microsoft Word checks spelling and grammar.

Word 2010

Word 2016

These options are mostly self-explanatory. For example, if you commonly use acronyms such as NASA, you'll probably want to check the box next to Ignore words in UPPERCASE. If you want Word to catch instances in which you've accidentally repeated word (like "that that"), then check the box next to Flag repeated words.

Word can also check spelling and grammar as you type, which can be particularly convenient if you don't want to have to remember to spell check when you're through editing. If the options "Check spelling as you type" and "Mark grammar errors as you type" are checked, you'll see green (spelling) and red (grammar) squiggly lines underneath any words or phrases caught by the Spell and Grammar Check.

I tend to find this method more convenient because I can visually scan the document as I'm editing and make corrections. If Word marks something as an error when it's actually correct, you can simply right-click on the squiggly line and click on Ignore to instruct Word to skip over any other instances of that word or phrase in that document.

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Using Spelling and Grammar Check
  • check
    Customizing how Spelling and Grammar Check works
  • check
    Setting up "check spelling as you type" and "mark grammar errors as you type"

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

If you're going to send your document out electronically, the next step is incredibly important: checking for (and eliminating) metadata. We'll go over how to use the Document Inspector to accomplish that. Stay tuned!

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