Select grammar and writing style options

This article explains the grammar and writing style options that you can choose in the Grammar Settings dialog box for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook.

 Note    If you are choosing options for text that is written in a language other than your language version of Word and Outlook, the options might vary. For example, some group names might be different, and others, such as Require, might not appear.

What do you want to do?


Display the Grammar Settings dialog box

Outlook

  1. Create or open an item.
  2. Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  3. Click Mail, and then click Editor Options.
  4. Click Proofing.
  5. Under When correcting spelling in Outlook, click Settings.

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Word

  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  2. Click Proofing.
  3. Under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, click Settings.

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Choose how punctuation errors should be detected

After you display the Grammar Settings dialog box, you can modify the following settings.

  • Comma required before last list item

Select one of these options:

  • don't check    Select this option if you don't want the grammar checker to check for this issue.
  • never    Select this option if you want the grammar checker to flag as errors any sentences that include a comma before the last item. The following is an example of a sentence that the grammar checker considers incorrect with this setting: Please buy milk, crackers, and bananas.
  • always    Select this option if you want the grammar checker to flag as errors any sentences that omit a comma before the last item. The following is an example of a sentence that the grammar checker considers incorrect with this setting: Please buy milk, crackers and bananas.
  • Punctuation required with quotes

Select one of these options:

  • don't check     Select this option if you don't want the grammar checker to check for this issue.
  • inside     Select this option if you want the grammar checker to flag as errors any phrases within quotation marks where the comma is outside the quotation marks. The following is an example of a sentence that the grammar checker considers incorrect with this setting: While critics call the acting "inspired", they point out inconsistencies in the plot.
  • outside     Select this option if you want the grammar checker to flag as errors any phrases within quotation marks where the comma is inside the quotation marks. The following is an example of a sentence that the grammar checker considers incorrect with this setting: While critics call the acting "inspired," they point out inconsistencies in the plot.
  • Spaces required between sentences

Select one of these options:

  • don't check     Select this option if you don't want the grammar checker to check for this issue.
  • 1 (space)     Select this option if you want the grammar checker to flag as errors any sentences that have more than one space after the period.
  • 2 (spaces)     Select this option if you want the grammar checker to flag as errors any sentences that have either a single space or more than two spaces after the period.

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Choose which grammar errors should be detected

After you display the Grammar Settings dialog box, you can modify the following settings.

Capitalization    Capitalization problems, such as proper nouns ("Mr. jones" should be "Mr. Jones") or titles that precede proper nouns ("aunt Helen" should be "Aunt Helen"). Also detects overuse of capitalization.

Fragments and run-ons   

Sentence fragments and run-on sentences.

Misused words    Incorrect use of adjectives and adverbs, comparatives and superlatives, "like" as a conjunction, "nor" versus "or," "what" versus "which," "who" versus "whom," units of measurement, conjunctions, prepositions, and pronouns.

Negation    Use of multiple negatives.

Noun phrases    Incorrect noun phrases; a/an misuse; number agreement problems in noun phrases ("five machine" instead of "five machines").

Possessives and plurals    Use of a possessive in place of a plural, and vice versa. Also detects omitted apostrophes in possessives.

Punctuation    Incorrect punctuation, including commas, colons, end-of-sentence punctuation, punctuation in quotations, multiple spaces between words, or a semicolon used in place of a comma or colon.

Questions    Nonstandard questions such as, "He asked if there was any coffee left?", "Which makes an offer a good solution?", and "She asked did you go after all?".

Relative clauses    Incorrect use of relative pronouns and punctuation, including "who" used in place of "which" to refer to things, "which" used in place of "who" to refer to people, unnecessary use of "that" with "whatever" and "whichever," or "that's" used in place of "whose."

Subject-verb agreement    Disagreement between the subject and its verb, including subject-verb agreement with pronouns and quantifiers (for example, "All of the students has left" instead of "All of the students have left").

Verb phrases    Incorrect verb phrases; incorrect verb tenses; transitive verbs used as intransitive verbs.

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Choose which style errors should be detected

After you display the Grammar Settings dialog box, you can modify the following settings.

Clichés, colloquialisms, and jargon

   
  • Words or phrases identified as clichés in the dictionary.
  • Sentences that contain colloquial words and phrases, including "real," "awfully," and "plenty" used as adverbs; two consecutive possessives; "get" used as a passive verb; "kind of" used in place of "somewhat"; "scared of" used in place of "afraid of"; and "how come" used in place of "why."
  • Use of technical, business, or industry jargon.

Contractions    Use of contractions that should be spelled out or that are considered too informal for a specific writing style — for example, "We won't leave 'til tomorrow" instead of "We will not leave until tomorrow."

Fragment — stylistic suggestions    Fragments that you might want to avoid in formal writing, such as "A beautiful day!" or "Why?".

Gender-specific words    Gender-specific language, such as "councilman" and "councilwoman."

Hyphenated and compound words    Hyphenated words that should not be hyphenated, and vice versa. Also detects closed compounds that should be open, and vice versa.

Misused words — stylistic suggestions    Nonstandard words such as "ain't" as well as miscellaneous usages such as "angry at" instead of "angry with."

Numbers    Numerals that should be spelled out (use nine instead of 9), and vice versa (use 12 instead of twelve). Also detects incorrect use of "%" in place of "percentage."

Passive sentences    Sentences written in the passive voice. When possible, the suggestions are rewritten in the active voice.

Possessives and plurals — stylistic suggestions    Questionable but not strictly incorrect possessive usages such as "Her memory is like an elephant's" or "I stopped by John's."

Punctuation — stylistic suggestions    Unneeded commas in date phrases, informal successive punctuation marks, and missing commas before quotations — for example, "She said 'He is due at noon.'"

Relative clauses — stylistic suggestions    Questionable use of "that" or "which."

Sentence length (more than 60 words)    Sentences that include more than 60 words.

Sentence structure    Sentence fragments, run-on sentences, overuse of conjunctions (such as "and" or "or"), nonparallel sentence structure (such as shifts between active and passive voice in a sentence), incorrect sentence structure of questions, and misplaced modifiers.

Sentences beginning with "And," "But," or "Hopefully"    Use of conjunctions and adverbs at the beginning of a sentence, or use of "plus" as a conjunction between two independent clauses.

Successive nouns (more than three)    Strings of several nouns that may be unclear — for example, "The income tax office business practices remained the same."

Successive prepositional phrases (more than three)    Strings of prepositional phrases — for example, "The book on the shelf in the corner at the library on the edge of town was checked out."

Unclear phrasing    Ambiguous phrasing — for example, "more" followed by an adjective and a plural or mass noun ("We need more thorough employees," instead of "We need more employees who are thorough") — or sentences that contain more than one possible referent for a pronoun ("All of the departments did not file a report" instead of "Not all of the departments filed a report").

Use of first person    Pronouns I and me, which shouldn't be used in scientific or technical writing.

Verb phrases — stylistic suggestions    Use of indicative verb forms where the subjunctive is preferable, split verb phrases, and passive verb phrases — for example, "The pepper is able to be chopped without burning fingers."

Wordiness    Wordy relative clauses or vague modifiers (such as "fairly" or "pretty"), redundant adverbs, too many negatives, the unnecessary use of "or not" in the phrase "whether or not," or the use of "possible … may" in place of "possible … will."

Words in split infinitives (more than one)    Two or more words between "to" and an infinitive verb — for example, "to very boldly enter the market."

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Restore the original rule settings

After you display the Grammar Settings dialog box and modify various settings, you may decide to restore the settings to their default states. To do this, click Reset All.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2013, Word 2013, Outlook 2010, Word 2010