Tag Archives: spellcheck

Q&A: Spellcheck Is Now in “Editor” in Word

QWhere did Spellcheck go!?

AIt’s tucked inside “Editor” now. It’s pretty much the same, except that readability statistics are found in an area of the Editor pane too, not after running Spellcheck. See the demos below.

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Q&A: Grammar Check is Greyed Out!

QI’m using MS Word for Mac, Office 365 subscription, and for some reason grammar check is greyed out. I can’t figure out how to turn it on. Any ideas? Google search just tells me to put in on in the preferences, but that is where it’s greyed out. The language is set for English (US), so it shouldn’t be that. Thanks!

ACheck the language settings in the Style setting of that text. If it is set to a language whose dictionary is not installed, the Grammar check options won’t be available.

While the grammar checking aspect of the (newly termed) Editor is improving, one of the most useful aspects of this tool is the reading level assessment (readability statistics) it can provide at the end of the process. For more on reading levels assessments, see this other blog post.


Check all of the styles used in the document.

book cover cropped to banner size
Learn more about Styles starting on page 59 of the self-study book and about Language settings on page 27.

Be sure to click on the desired language and click OK. Just because it’s listed at the top doesn’t mean that a language is selected.

In the Style’s settings, ensure that the “Do not check spelling and grammar” option is NOT checked off/ticked/selected.

Save and close the document if this change doesn’t work at first. Close and reopen Word, too.

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

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© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

Make the Language Setting Stick

Click the Language icon on the Review ribbon to open this list of options. (The Windows version has even more English options!)

If you are pasting new content into a file, you may have to reset the language for that material as well. It is possible to set a different language for each word in a file, and Word seems to keep the language settings from the source document when pasting content. Sometimes it feels like I am constantly selecting all (⌘ + A) and resetting the language!


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Q&A: Word won’t suggest the correct spelling!

QWhen running a full Spellcheck, Word won’t suggest the right word. What can I do besides writing down the misspelling and searching it out later to correct it manually?

AYou’re in luck! Just click in the document itself and make the change (Fig. 1), then return to the Spellcheck (now called Editor) window and resume. See details and demo video below.

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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.
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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

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