Check the spelling in a worksheet

Unlike other Microsoft Office programs, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel cannot check spelling automatically as you type by displaying wavy red underlines to indicate possible spelling errors. You can check spelling all at once, or you can use AutoCorrect to automatically correct common typing errors as you work, without having to confirm each correction. For example, you can specify that Excel change "adn" to "and" and change "their is" to "there is."

What do you want to do?

Check spelling

Specify spelling and AutoCorrect options

Check spelling

When you check spelling, Excel checks the entire active worksheet, including cell values, cell comments, embedded charts, text boxes, buttons, and headers and footers. However, Excel does not check protected worksheets, formulas, or text that results from a formula.

  1. To check worksheet (worksheet: The primary document that you use in Excel to store and work with data. Also called a spreadsheet. A worksheet consists of cells that are organized into columns and rows; a worksheet is always stored in a workbook.) data for spelling errors, do one of the following:

ShowHow to select cells or ranges of cells

To select Do this
A range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.

You can also select the first cell in the range and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys.

A large range of cells Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.
All cells on a worksheet

Click the Select All button.

Select All button

To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.

 Note   If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.

Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges

Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.

You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection.

 Note   You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.

An entire row or column

Click the row or column heading.

Worksheet showing row heading and column heading

Callout 1 Row heading
Callout 2 Column heading

You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW KEY (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

 Note   If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW KEY selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW KEY a second time selects the entire row or column.

Adjacent rows or columns Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.
Nonadjacent rows or columns Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.
More or fewer cells than the active selection Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell (active cell: The selected cell in which data is entered when you begin typing. Only one cell is active at a time. The active cell is bounded by a heavy border.) and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.

 Note   To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.

 Note   If the formula bar is active when you check spelling, Excel checks only the contents of the formula bar.

  1. On the Standard toolbar (toolbar: A bar with buttons and options that you use to carry out commands. To display a toolbar, press ALT and then SHIFT+F10.), click Spelling Button image.
  2. When Excel finds a possible spelling error, make your changes by selecting the options in the Spelling dialog box.
  3. If you want to check the spelling of text in another language, in the Dictionary language box, click the language whose dictionary you want to use.

 Note   If the Spelling dialog box is not available, you can change the language by using the Dictionary language box on the Spelling tab of the Options dialog box (Tools menu).

Tips

  • If you use words that aren't in the main dictionary, such as acronyms or proper names, you can add the words to a custom dictionary so that Excel questions the words only if they are misspelled. In the Spelling dialog box, click Add to Dictionary.
  • If you want to add a word to the list of automatic corrections, in the Spelling dialog box, select the word that you want to add in the Suggestions box, and then click AutoCorrect.

 Notes 

  • If you click Change All and then close the Spelling dialog box before Excel finishes checking the entire worksheet, errors in the unchecked portion are not corrected.
  • Excel may question a word when it appears with mixed lowercase and uppercase letters. Retype the word in the custom dictionary in all lowercase letters. Various formats of the word are then recognized.
  • Excel can consult only one custom dictionary at a time. Before you check spelling, make sure that the correct custom dictionary is selected in the Add words to box on the Spelling tab of the Options dialog box (Tools menu).
  • If a custom dictionary contains a nonprintable character or a misspelled word, use Microsoft Notepad to open the custom dictionary that you use with Excel. Correct any words and delete any nonprintable characters, which are usually displayed as small boxes, and then save the dictionary in the folder that contains the main spelling dictionary. If you use Word or another program to edit a custom dictionary, save the dictionary in Text Only format with a .dic file extension.
  • If you checked spelling in another language, you can restore your default spelling checker by setting the Dictionary language on the Spelling tab of the Options dialog box (Tools menu).

Top of Page Top of Page

Specify spelling and AutoCorrect options

Specific AutoCorrect options are set by default. You can turn those options off or on. You can also add your own AutoCorrect entries as needed. For example, if you misspell a word consistently, you can add the common misspelling as an AutoCorrect entry. The common misspelling is then automatically corrected.

 Important   Don't confuse the AutoCorrect feature with AutoComplete. The AutoComplete feature finishes typing a word that is used repeatedly in a column of a list after you type a few letters of the word or phrase.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Spelling tab, select or clear the options that you do or do not want to use.
  3. To specify AutoCorrect options, click AutoCorrect Options.
  4. On the AutoCorrect tab, select or clear the options that you do or do not want to use.
  5. If you want to add a word to the list of automatic corrections, make sure that the Replace text as you type check box is selected. In the Replace and With boxes, type the incorrectly and correctly spelled words, and then click Add.

Tip    To remove an entry from the list of automatic corrections, click it, and then click Delete. If you want to turn off automatic corrections, clear the Replace text as you type check box.

 Note   Excel shares spelling dictionaries and AutoCorrect entries with other Office programs that you might use.

Top of Page Top of Page

 
 
Applies to:
Excel 2003