You know Spellcheck, and in the previous post, you learned about language preferences and how to control them. Now we’ll look at the ways to run Spellcheck in Word and how they’re different.
It might seem obvious that Spellcheck is running because you can see the red squiggly underlining on words that the program doesn’t recognize. This visual cue has become ubiquitous: we see it when composing text message and social media posts or when we’re querying Google. Sometimes Spellcheck is running in Word even without displaying the errors on screen: the lines are not displayed when you choose to hide them (Figure 1) or when Word finds there are “too many errors to display.” Of course, they’re probably not all errors, just names and technical terms that aren’t in the spellcheck dictionary.
The most common way to use Spellcheck is to address the words underlined on screen. The options are to fix the misspelling or right-click on the misspelling and select either
- the correct spelling from the list of options
- Add to Dictionary
- Ignore All
You can also have Word sweep through a document, reviewing words it doesn’t recognize from start to finish. Launch Spellcheck by clicking the “Spelling and Language” icon on the left edge of the Review ribbon. That opens a panel of options as Word combs the document, addressing each unrecognized word in turn. When a flagged word is reviewed, the relevant area of the document is shown (so you can check the context) as well as options for correct spellings:
- change or change all; options only available in this mode
- adding the unknown word to the Spellcheck dictionary
- ignoring the word once or throughout the document (Ignore All)
Ignoring a word does not add it to the dictionary; words will have to be ignored in each document separately and each time you run Spellcheck. Adding a word will add it to the “custom dictionary” for use in any document.
Another advantage of running Spellcheck manually is that you can have Word display readability statistics when it is done. (Grammar check has to be turned on for this, but you can just skip through all its suggestions.) Turn on the readability statistics feature in Options.
Word uses the Flesch-Kinkaid readability assessment and gives you an equivalent grade level. That relates to the number of years of education a reader will need to make sense of the text. It’s based on grammatical complexity only, not clear communication, but it is a handy tool when trying to convince the document owner to make changes. You can read more about readability assessments in the October–November 2016 issue of the Copyediting Newsletter.
Spell check can be run again either as a double-check or once spelling choices have been finalized. Telling Word to “recheck the document” will make it forget all the misspellings you told it to ignore previously, giving you a chance to recheck them. Note that any words you “added” previously will remain in the dictionary.