Troubleshoot spelling, grammar, and other proofing tools

Some of the content in this topic may not be applicable to some languages.

Spelling and grammar

ShowThe spelling checker didn't find specific errors in my document or didn't mark them with wavy underlines.

Try the following solutions:

  • Turn on the automatic spelling checker, and then start typing in the document. The spelling checker checks the new text you type, as well as any existing text, and marks possible spelling problems with wavy red underlines. If you don't see the wavy underlines, turn them on.
  • Make sure you haven't selected part of the document. If you've selected text, the spelling checker checks only the selected text. When the spelling checker asks whether you want to check the remainder of the document, click Yes.
  • Use a font other than a decorative or symbol font. The spelling checker doesn't check text that's formatted with a decorative or symbol font. You can apply a different font to such text, and then repeat the spelling check.
  • Recheck the document. You might have performed an action that affected the spelling checker. To recheck the document, click Options on the Tools menu, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab. Click Check Document or Recheck Document. Then, repeat the spelling check.
  • Do not apply the Do not check spelling or grammar option. The spelling checker doesn't check text that has the Do not check spelling or grammar option applied.

To remove this option from text, select the text, point to Language on the Tools menu, and then click Set Language. Clear the Do not check spelling or grammar check box, and then click OK. Then, repeat the spelling check.

If you're not sure whether text has this format, select the text and then click Reveal Formatting on the Format menu to find out.

ShowThe grammar checker didn't find specific errors in my document or didn't mark them with wavy underlines.

Microsoft Word provides a "natural language" grammar checker that flags possible problems by performing a comprehensive analysis of the text. If the grammar checker doesn't flag some problems, it might be because it is designed to focus on those that are most typical or frequent.

It might also be because the grammar checker can't determine the correct linguistic structure of certain sentences. In addition, for some languages the grammar checker doesn't check areas of the document that are likely to contain sentence fragments: headers, footers (header and footer: A header, which can consist of text or graphics, appears at the top of every page in a section. A footer appears at the bottom of every page. Headers and footers often contain page numbers, chapter titles, dates, and author names.), comments (comment: A note or annotation that an author or reviewer adds to a document. Microsoft Word displays the comment in a balloon in the margin of the document or in the Reviewing Pane.), or text that's enclosed in quotation marks.

If the grammar checker doesn't flag basic errors in the main document text, try the following solutions:

  • Turn on automatic grammar checking, and then start typing in the document. The grammar checker checks the new text you type, as well as any existing text, and marks possible grammatical problems with wavy green underlines. If you don't see the wavy underlines, you can turn them on.
  • Check grammar all at once. Make sure grammar checking is turned on. On the Tools menu, click Options, click the Spelling & Grammar tab, and then select the Check grammar with spelling check box.

You can also turn on the grammar checker during a spelling check by selecting the Check grammar check box in the Spelling and Grammar dialog box.

  • Make sure you haven't selected part of the document. If you've selected text, the grammar checker checks only the selected text. When the grammar checker asks whether you want to check the remainder of the document, click Yes.
  • Turn on rules for specific grammar or writing styles. On the Tools menu, click Options, click the Spelling & Grammar tab, and then click Settings. In the Grammar and style options box, select the check boxes for the rules you want. Then, repeat the grammar check.
  • Recheck the document. You might have performed an action that affected the grammar checker. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab. Click Check Document or Recheck Document. Then, repeat the grammar check.
  • Do not apply the Do not check spelling or grammar option. The spelling checker doesn't check text that has the Do not check spelling or grammar option applied.

To remove this option from text, select the text, point to Language on the Tools menu, and then click Set Language. Clear the Do not check spelling or grammar check box, and then click OK. Then, repeat the spelling check.

If you're not sure whether text has this format, select the text and then click Reveal Formatting on the Format menu to find out.

ShowThe spelling or grammar checker flags text that is correct.

Try the following solutions:

  • Add specialized terms or custom capitalizations to a custom dictionary. When you use the spelling checker, it compares the words in your document with those in its main dictionary. The main dictionary contains most common words, but it might not include proper names, technical terms, acronyms, and so on. In addition, some words might be capitalized differently in the main dictionary than in your document. Adding such words or capitalization to a custom dictionary prevents the spelling checker from flagging them.
  • Turn off rules for specific grammar or writing styles. Microsoft Word provides a "natural language" grammar checker that flags possible problems by performing a comprehensive analysis of the text. If the grammar checker can't determine the correct linguistic structure of a sentence, or if it comes across a questionable capitalization, it might incorrectly flag text or propose incorrect suggestions. If the grammar checker flags errors you don't want to fix, you can customize the grammar and writing style rules to be less restrictive.
  • Set up Word to check text in another language. If you want to check text in another language, you need to install the spelling and grammar tools for that language, and then enable the language for editing. Thereafter, Word can automatically detect the language in your documents and will use the correct spelling and grammar tools.

To learn more about why Word flagged a possible grammar error, click Explain in the Spelling and Grammar dialog box.

ShowThe spelling checker didn't check words in uppercase letters.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
  2. Clear the Ignore words in UPPERCASE check box.
  3. Then, repeat the spelling check.

ShowThe spelling checker didn't change every occurrence of a misspelled word.

If you check spelling all at once, you can click the Change All button in the Spelling and Grammar dialog box to change every occurrence of a misspelled word. If you close the dialog box before checking the entire document, the spelling checker will not correct errors in the unchecked portion.

ShowWhen I try to check text in another language, Word can't find the dictionary or other proofing tools.

If you want to check text in another language, you need to install the spelling and grammar tools for that language, and make sure that language is enabled for editing. Thereafter, Microsoft Word will automatically detect the language in your documents and use the correct spelling and grammar tools.

ShowThe spelling checker or thesaurus suggested an offensive term.

When the spelling checker encounters a word it doesn't recognize, it determines which words in its dictionary are similarly spelled and displays a list of those words, with the most likely match highlighted. The contents of the list are determined only by spelling, so any instances of terms that seem inappropriate in context are completely coincidental.

The thesaurus provides a list of synonyms for the text you look up, and highlights the one that is closest to what you have typed. As with the spelling checker, any instances of seemingly inappropriate terms are coincidental.

ShowI don't know why Word flagged my text as grammatically incorrect.

To learn more about the grammar rule Microsoft Word used to flag your text, click Explain in the Spelling and Grammar dialog box. If you want to change the rules Word uses to check grammar, click Options on the Tools menu, click the Spelling & Grammar tab, and then click Settings. Then select the grammar and style options you want.

ShowWhen I change certain spelling options in Word, the changes aren't reflected in Outlook.

Some spelling options are only shared between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook when you use Word as your e-mail editor. If you've turned off Word as your e-mail editor, you can change the following settings in Word without altering the setting in Outlook:

  • Always suggest corrections
  • Ignore words in UPPERCASE
  • Ignore words with numbers

ShowThe Spelling and Grammar Checking Status icon is still on the status bar even though I turned off automatic spelling and grammar checking.

When you turn off the spelling and grammar checker options, the grammar checker continues to run in order to recognize smart tags (action tags: Data recognized and labeled as a particular type. For example, a person's name or the name of a recent Microsoft Outlook e-mail message recipient is a type of data that can be recognized and labeled with an action tag.).

If you want the spelling and grammar checker to be turned off completely, you also need to turn off smart tags.

  1. On the Tools menu, click AutoCorrect Options, and then click the Smart Tags tab.
  2. Clear the Label text with smart tags check box.

Custom dictionaries

ShowI can't add a word to the custom dictionary.

ShowI'm used to using Notepad to work with custom dictionaries.

Microsoft Word has simplified its methods for working with custom dictionaries so that you no longer need to use a separate text editor to work with the content of your custom dictionary. Notepad is no longer the recommended tool.

ShowI added words to a custom dictionary, but the spelling checker still flags them.

Before you can use a custom dictionary to check spelling, you must activate it by selecting the check box next to its name in the Custom Dictionaries dialog box.

In addition, if you add a word to the custom dictionary while another program is running, the addition does not appear until you restart Microsoft Word.

Automatic language detection

ShowWord doesn't correctly detect my language.

  • Make sure you have enabled the language for editing by using the Microsoft Office Language Settings tool.
  • Type at least one sentence that contains five or more words in the language. The more you type, the higher the accuracy of the detection.
  • The text may contain a mixture of languages. Microsoft Word evaluates text sentence by sentence to determine its language. If a sentence contains words from more than one language, or many scientific or other special terms, Word may apply the default language for the document or it may apply the language of the preceding sentence. If a word has a wavy underline because it is in a different language, you can apply the correct language. Right-click the word, point to Language on the shortcut menu (shortcut menu: A menu that shows a list of commands relevant to a particular item. To display a shortcut menu, right-click an item or press SHIFT+F10.), and then click the language you want.
  • The language Word detected may be only subtly different from another language, for example Norwegian and Danish, or Spanish and Portuguese. When languages have subtle differences in spelling, Word may not be able to identify the correct language, especially if there are only a few words in the sentence.

If you have two similar languages enabled for editing and you only write in one of these languages, try disabling the language you don't use.

  • If none of the previous suggestions result in correct language detection, you can apply the language format manually (Tools menu, Language submenu, Set Language command).

ShowWord doesn't detect my language at all.

  • The language may not be supported by Microsoft Word.

ShowLanguages Word can detect automatically

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Make sure you have enabled the language for editing by using the Microsoft Office Language Settings tool.
 
 
Applies to:
Word 2003