If you decide to use spell check in MS Word—and it’s very often a helpful tool—set the language preference. There are two places you need to set this: in Styles, and for each paragraph. Like the preferences we set in last week’s post, this is one of the things you want to do before you start editing.
Set Language for Each Paragraph
Open the document, select all the contents using the keyboard shortcut ctrl + A, then select language from the Tools menu. Press the E key to take you to the options for English. Note that there are four options for English! Be sure the little checkbox for “Do not check spelling or grammar” is not selected. If that checkbox contains a dash or a check mark, click to clear it.
At some point in your editing career, you might find it handy to tell Word not to check the spelling or grammar in a paragraph of quoted text or that is in another language. But we’ll talk about that another time.
Set Language in Styles
Language preference can also be set in the Style preference for each Style used in a document. (Styles are found on the Home tab and in the Format menu.
If you notice that the language setting keeps reverting, check the styles in use in the document and set each language to your preference. This is particularly problematic when content is picked up from another source—such as in the case of a quote—as the language preference may be pasted along with the text. But this setting is also useful when there are large foreign passages you’d like spell check to skip or to apply a different language to. You might create a style called “foreign quotes” and set the preference either to not spell check such contents, or to check it using a different dictionary.