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Microsoft Word's Spelling and Grammar checking functions are part of the Proofing tools. These are found under the Review section on the main toolbar of MS Word 2007. Proofing is similar to the Edit functions in earlier versions of Word but is more user friendly and intuitive in the 2007 version.
As its name implies, the Proofing tools enable you to proof your document in regards to Spelling and Grammar. As well, proofing tools provide reference materials, dictionaries, translation, word count, and readability indices. Several aspects of the Spelling and Grammar function merit closer attention.
MS Word can accommodate many different languages, dictionaries, and spell checkers. This article is primarily aimed at the Proofing function as it applies to English.
For the most part, US spellings were created by one man, Noah Webster who was a post revolutionary American lexicographer. Webster attempted to simplify spelling and enhance the phonics of English spelling.
When it comes time to write your document you should decide who your target audience will be. Next you will want to determine whether you will use the reader's local spelling conventions or national rules and guidelines. Some people are not distracted, by seeing variant spellings such as "color" and "colour". There will be times, however, where it is an issue, so the rule is: Know your audience and write for them.
You can change language settings at any point during the creation of your document. You can assign different languages to different sections of your document. You do this by selecting Review from the main task bar in Microsoft Word 2007. Under Proofing, also located on the navigation bar, select Set Language. Language sets are then displayed alphabetically. In this section, you also have the option of setting the default language for all new documents. An additional feature of Word 2007, allows you to turn the Spell and Grammar checker on or off. If you prefer to do all proofing at the end then you will want to turn it off. If you wish to be notified of errors, as you compose, then leave it on.
If there will be more than one language used in the document, the proofing tools can be re-set for the affected text. This is done by highlighting this text and manually changing the language setting. Alternatively, try enabling the Detect Language feature. The program will analyse the selected text. It will then assign a language setting to each section of text (Warning: Although this feature can be handy, it frequently misbehaves).
Auto Correct options
Auto Correct permits the user to identify and manage a list of commonly misspelled words and to have them corrected as the document is typed. This feature can also be used to insert repetitive words or phrases that would otherwise require many keystrokes. This is done by assignment of an acronym or code, much as you assign a speed dial button on your phone.
The Auto Correct list can be added to manually in the options screen. It can also be added to while doing an actual spell check. This is done by selecting AutoCorrect after selecting a replacement from the list of suggestions.
Auto Correct also allows the automatic insertion of a suggested spelling from the spell check dictionaries. To make changes to the Auto Correct settings, activate the Spelling and Grammar function, and select Options. The first heading is the Auto Correct Options. Here you can set the Auto Correct features, and edit the Replace text as you type list.
Recheck/reset of Spelling and Grammar
Sometime, we might run a spell check and choose to ignore or leave a misspelled word unchanged. Once ignored, the spell checker will not identify this word as misspelled again in any subsequent spell checks. If you need to find and correct these words, using the spell checker, you need to reset the spell checker. This is done by going to Office - Word Options - Proofing. In the Proofing pane, select Recheck Document. This resets the spell checker.
How readable is your document? Are there so many rarely words and sentences that it would challenge the patience of a lawyer? Always try to ensure that you speak to every member of your audience, not just the experts. After completing a Spelling & Grammar check, review the Readability statistics. This feature can be turned on by going to Office - Word Options - Proofing and then checking the box "Show readability statistics".
Readability is measured in two ways. One is the Reading Ease Score and the other is the Grade Level Score.
The Reading Ease Score is a score out of 100 with higher scores indicating more readability. The Grade Level Score rates text on a U.S. school grade level. A score of 10 implies that a person at a 10th grade reading level will understand the document.
These scores reflect word complexity and sentence length. If your score is too high for the intended audience edit your document to reduce sentence length and simplify the vocabulary.
For a general audience you should aim for a Reading Ease score of 60 - 70 or a Grade level score of 7 - 8. Professional audiences usually tolerate much higher scores.