Tag Archives: preferences

The Many Englishes of MS Word

Editors know that English spelling preferences differ from the Americas to Europe, and even differ within the Americas. MS Word is ready to help, with at least three options for English spellcheck dictionaries in the Language settings.

Setting the language preference is easy: on the Review ribbon, click the Language icon, then press E to skip to the English section of the list. Select the preferred English for the document, then click Ok. You can even tell word to set that as the Default by pressing that button before you press Ok.

In Word for Windows, the 18 English options include (beyond those shown in the images above) Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and Zimbabwe.


  • Select the entire document (cmd + A, or ctrl + A on Windows) before entering the settings in order to set the language for the whole document rather than just the paragraph in which the cursor is currently placed.
  • If the language choice won’t “stick”, check the Style settings. Not only can a style specify aspects of the font, it can also set the language. Modify the style to match your preference. Also be sure that the style is set to “check spelling and grammar” rather than to “do not check.”
  • Language settings are document specific. The spellcheck preference needs to be set for each document.
  • Some sections of text may be set (either manually or via Styles) to not check the spelling and grammar there. This is useful when we want Word to skip lengthy quotes or passages in another language but problematic when set by mistake. Find that option either in the Style settings or when selecting the language for that particular paragraph.
The dash in the “do not check” box means that some text has been set to not be spellchecked.
book cover cropped to banner size
Find out more about making the most of “Editor” (formerly Spellcheck) starting on p. 27 of the book.

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition

Track Changes Inline or in Balloons

The book and its tutorial videos go into options for seeing Tracked Changes in quite a bit of detail, so here we’ll just compare seeing changes in balloons vs seeing them inline. We’re also sticking with the defaults for colour, underlining, etc. though it’s almost all customizable. Except for specifying which reviewer is shown in which colour; that’s impossible.

Continue reading Track Changes Inline or in Balloons

Stop the Annoying Formatting Pop-Up When Pasting in Word

This formatting pop-up can be handy in Word, but mostly it’s just annoying when all you want to do is paste.

That tiny clipboard icon that pops up whenever you paste something into a Word file can get pretty annoying. It obscures the text and gets clicked inadvertently. It’s usually just technology getting in the way.

Here is how to turn it off in Word 365/2019. Windows instructions follow the Mac instructions. The process hasn’t changed much since 2003.

Continue reading Stop the Annoying Formatting Pop-Up When Pasting in Word

A Guide to Word’s Squiggles

Into every Word file, a few squiggles must fall.

tools spelling out the word tool

In the 2019 release that is a snapshot of Word 365, the grammar and spelling tools are grouped together in a feature Microsoft has called the Editor. On screen, Word flags errors by underlining them. The underlining it uses mean the following:

  • red squiggle = misspelled
  • blue dots = formatting error
  • blue double straight = word choice or grammar error

The flagging of homonyms has improved, as you can see in the left-hand figure, but Word still misses a lot of grammar errors and some of the formatting errors — even when it has flagged those exact errors elsewhere. The errors shown in the screen grabs below are particularly bad, but Word even misses errors they used as illustrations in Word’s own help files.

Turning On Grammar & Spelling Display

  • On a Mac, go to Word > Preferences > Spelling & Grammar.
  • Windows users, click Options on the File menu, then select Proofing. In the area headed “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word,” click the Settings… button.
Windows users look in the Proofing area of Options from the File ribbon.

Turning Off Grammar & Spelling Display

You can turn off grammar checking, and you can deselect a lot of the checks, but even if you turn off the display of spelling errors, homonyms will still be flagged. (Right figure, top.)

While many editors turn off the grammar checker because Word’s advice is misguided more often than not, the blue “wrong word” checker cannot be turned off.

To get rid of the flags, select “Check Document” or “Recheck Document” in the spelling & grammar settings after deselecting “Mark grammar errors as you type” and “Check grammar with spelling.”

book cover cropped to banner size
Find out more about making the most of “Editor” (formerly Spellcheck) starting on p. 27 of the book.

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition