How to use spell check in Microsoft Word to eliminate typos and grammatical errors

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How to use spell check in Microsoft Word to eliminate typos and grammatical errors
Spell check in Word is a useful built-in tool to proof your writing, it and can be adjusted in several ways.Canberk Sezer/Getty Images
  • You can spell check in Microsoft Word by using its built-in spelling and grammar checker.
  • If enabled, it will automatically underline spelling and grammatical errors.
  • You can also open the Spelling & Grammar dialog box to manually check all of the spelling and grammar issues in a document at once.
  • The latest version of Microsoft 365 adds a new Editor pane to Word for enhanced spelling and grammar checking.
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Microsoft Word's ability to check spelling and grammar can be a professional lifesaver, informing you about embarrassing errors before you share the document with others.

Word can perform in-line spell checks automatically, but if you prefer to disable the feature or want a more comprehensive view, it's possible to check spelling and grammar manually across a document as well.

How to use spell check in Word

If automatic spell checking is turned on - which it should be by default - it's easy to accept and reject misspelled words and see potential grammar problems. The steps are essentially the same on Windows and the Mac.

  1. As you work, you should see a red squiggly line appear under misspelled words in your document. Phrases with potential grammar issues appear with a double-underline.
  2. To see suggested replacements, right-click the underlined word in Windows or control-click the word on the Mac.
  3. Choose the option you prefer from the dropdown menu. If the word doesn't really need correction, you can also choose to "Add to Dictionary" or ignore the word.

    How to use spell check in Microsoft Word to eliminate typos and grammatical errors
    Right-click (Windows) or control-click (Mac) words to see suggested corrections.Dave Johnson/Insider

How to turn automatic spell check on and off in Word for Windows

If you want to disable automatic spelling and grammar checking (or turn it back on after it's been turned off) you can do that in Word Options. You can also control spelling and grammar separately, so you can check spelling automatically but defer automatic grammar checks.

  1. Click the "File" tab in the ribbon at the top of the screen, then click "Options."
  2. In the navigation pane, click "Proofing."
  3. Turn spell check on or off with the option called "Check spelling as you type." You can also choose to turn grammar checking on or off with "Mark grammar errors as you type."
  4. When you're done, click "OK."
    How to use spell check in Microsoft Word to eliminate typos and grammatical errors
    You can enable or disable automatic spell check in Word Options.Dave Johnson/Insider

How to turn automatic spell check on and off in Word for Mac

You can turn automatic spelling and grammar checks on and off in Word's preferences. You can control both settings separately, so you can check spelling automatically but defer automatic grammar checks.

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  1. In the Word menu, click "Preferences."
  2. In the Word Preferences dialog box, click "Spelling & Grammar."
  3. In the Spelling section, turn "Check spelling as you type" on or off. In the Grammar section, do the same for "Check grammar as you type."
    How to use spell check in Microsoft Word to eliminate typos and grammatical errors
    You can choose whether to let Word automatically flag spelling errors in Preferences.Dave Johnson/Insider

How to manually check spelling and grammar in Word

There may be times when you want to check spelling and grammar manually, such as if you've turned off automatic spell check or if you have a long document and want to make sure you don't miss any of the spelling or grammar issues that Word flagged.

The process is the same on both Windows and the Mac.

  1. Click the "Review" tab in the ribbon at the top of the screen.
  2. In the ribbon, click "Spelling & Grammar."
  3. If there are any spelling or grammar issues, the Spelling and Grammar dialog box will appear. You'll see a list of suggestions for each potential error. You can choose how you'd like to respond to each entry - you can ignore the word, change it to one of the suggestions, or add it to Word's spell check dictionary.
    How to use spell check in Microsoft Word to eliminate typos and grammatical errors
    You can check all the spelling and grammar issues in a document at once using the Spelling & Grammar button in the Review ribbon.Dave Johnson/Insider

How to check spelling and grammar in Word with the Editor pane

If you are using Microsoft 365, you may see a different way to manually check for spelling and grammar. Instead of the "Spelling & Grammar" button in the Review ribbon, there's a new "Editor" button. This opens the Editor pane on the right side of the screen. You will see a summary at the top of the screen, so you know how many suggested changes remain, along with details for spelling and grammar below.

How to use spell check in Microsoft Word to eliminate typos and grammatical errors
The new Editor pane offers more detailed spelling and grammar controls.Dave Johnson/Insider

Click "Spelling" and you'll see the word in the context of the surrounding text with suggested changes. The editor also provides brief definitions for these suggestions to make it easier to choose the best option. You can also choose other traditional options like "Ignore" or "Add to dictionary."

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