Exploring Office 2007: All the Makings of a Spelling Maven

By Helen Bradley | Posted March 18, 2008

One of the big benefits of a word processor is the ability to spell check your work. Instead of sending out documents littered with typos and misspellings, it's easy to ensure that your work is correctly spelled. Even if you don't realize a word is a misspelling, chances are that Microsoft Word does, and it can offer a range of alternate replacement words for you to choose from.

However, if you think that spelling in Microsoft Word is limited to your ability to press the F7 key then you may be interested to know that there's a lot more to spelling checking than first meets the eye.


» What's Up With All That Wavy Underlining?

If you haven't altered Word's defaults, as you work it will identify any misspelled words and will underline them with a wavy red line. Right click on the word and a list of alternate spellings appears at the top of the shortcut menu. If one is a correct replacement, select it to replace the underlined word with the correctly spelled version.

If you continually misspell this word, click AutoCorrect and select the correctly spelled version from this secondary menu. When you do so an AutoCorrect entry is created for this misspelling. Then, in future, any time that you spell the word incorrectly, Word will automatically correct it for you.

If there are multiple words in your document with wavy underlines, you can move to the next word by pressing Alt + F7. This key combination takes you through the document from one misspelling to the next.

Alternately, to spell check your document using the Spelling and Grammar dialog click the Review tab and click Spelling & Grammar or press the F7 key to launch it. With the Spelling and Grammar dialog open, you can switch between spelling and editing the document by clicking in the document itself, making your changes, and then clicking Resume to continue checking the spelling.


» Selecting Spelling Options

If you find the wavy red lines that appear indicating a potentially misspelled word (or the green ones that indicate incorrect grammar) to be annoying you can turn them off. In Word 2007, click the Office Button, click Word Options, and then select the Proofing group. You can now disable these for the current document or for all documents in the future.

To do it for just this document, enable the Hide spelling errors in this document only checkbox and the Hide grammar errors in this document only checkbox. If you disable the Check spelling as you type checkbox you will turn off automatic spell checking for this document and all other documents you work on in future. Likewise, use the Mark grammar errors as you type checkbox to enable and disable grammar checking for all documents.

Of course, even with it disabled you can still check grammar and spelling using the Spelling & Grammar button (or press F7). One final option, the Check grammar with spelling checkbox lets you turn off grammar checking so that Spelling & Grammar checks only spelling and not grammar.

In some cases you may not want a piece of text to be checked — for example, where it includes computer code or where you've used dummy text such as "lorem ipsum." In this case you can mark the text so it won't be spell checked.

Likewise, if you have some text written in a foreign language you can configure Word to proof it in that language. To do this, select the text and from the Status Bar click the Language option that should show English (U.S.) or something similar.

When you click this, the language dialog appears and, from this, you can select the Do not check spelling or grammar checkbox to prevent the text being checked or choose an alternate language from the list to use to proof the text.


» Rechecking the Document

When you use the Spelling and Grammar options and choose Ignore Once or Ignore All in response to a potential misspelled word, the word will no longer be identified as a misspelling if you run a spell check again on the document during the current editing session. If you close the document and open it again, the ignore list is cleared and the word will again be flagged as an error.

If you want to recheck the document and identify words that you have asked Word to ignore, you can bypass closing and reopening the document and, instead, click the Office Button and then choose Word Options and the Proofing group. Click the Recheck Document button and click Yes and Ok. Now when you spell check the document the words will no longer be ignored.


» Working with Custom Dictionaries

When you click the Add to Dictionary option to add a word from your document to the dictionary so that it will not be flagged as a misspelling in future, it is added, by default, to the custom.dic file. Word uses this file if you have not specified an alternate dictionary to use.

Custom.dic is a list of words which you have added to your dictionary and it can be edited, so if you add a word to it and later change your mind, you can remove it. To do this, click the Office Button, choose Word Options and the Proofing group, and click the Custom Dictionaries button.

Select custom.dic and click Edit Word List. You can now check the list of words, select a word to remove, and click the Delete button. You can also add words to your custom dictionary by typing the word in the Word(s): area and click Add.

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