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Spell Checking in Microsoft Word

The Microsoft Word spell checker has a good vocabulary and, unlike some spell checkers, recognizes British English spellings.

The spell checker is pretty easy to use - especially if you have "check spelling as you type" enabled. This is the feature that provides the red squiggly lines under suspected misspellings as you are typing your document. To correct a misspelling simply right-click on the highlighted word and select the correct spelling from the list or add it to your custom dictionary.

If you make the same spelling many times then you could try add it to Microsoft Word's Autocorrect list As the same suggests from this point on whenever you type in that particular misspelling word will respell it for you without even notifying you of the error. There are disadvantages in using Word's Autocorrect feature.

Rather than correcting your spelling 'on-the-fly' you could use the traditional method. This involves clicking on the spelling icon on the Word toolbar or pressing:


to start a document-wide spell check.

Word's spell checker Dialog

The Microsoft Word spell checker diary will then appear if you have at least one suspected spelling error in your document. The buttons are fairly self-explanatory so I won't describe watch each once does, but notice you can uncheck the 'Check grammar' box which can be rather helpful as Word's grammar checker just tends to add confusion.

Problems with Word's spell checker

There are some areas that Word's spell checker falls rather short. People who have difficulty recognizing words, such as those with dyslexia, may struggle to read the suggestions and without any definitions they may not understand what the words mean. In addition to this Microsoft Word can only cope with fairly basic spelling errors such as missing and additional letters, very common phonetic errors and anagrammatic mistakes.

Specialist software, such as the dictionary found in TextHelp Read & Write, has additional features for people who struggle to use the Word spell checker:

  • Text to speech
  • Definitions for spelling suggestions
  • An ability to pick up much more erroneous spelling errors
  • Can be customized to a particular pattern of spelling errors

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