How to use spell check in Word 2013

15 Oct

Because Spell Check looks different in Word 2013, here is a special article just on that version of Word. It should be read alongside the more detailed post on Spell Check for Word 2007 and Word 2010 which you can find here.

What is Spell Check?

Spell Check in Word checks  the spelling and grammar in your document, highlighting any words that it thinks are spelled incorrectly and offering alternatives.

It’s always worth using Spell Check, even if you’re an accomplished writer or feel you can edit your own work – we all make mistakes, and this will catch many of them.

How do I start Spell Check?

We run Spell Check from the Review tab in Word:

Word 2013 spell check

Note: I’ve added the Spell Check button there because I use it a lot. If you want to learn how to add buttons to the QAT, read this article.

With your cursor at the beginning of the document, click on the Spelling and Grammar button. Word will highlight each word that it thinks is incorrect, starting with the first one:

Word 2013 spell check

Here, I started at the beginning of the text, but you’ll notice that it’s missed out “peace of txt” – see more detail in the main article on this.

What options does Spell Check give you?

  • Ignore Once ignores that instance of the word in question
  • Ignore All ignores that exact word throughout the rest of the piece
  • If you own a copy of Word 2013 outright or have a subscription and are logged in, Add to Dictionary will add that exact word to the Spell Check dictionary so it will never ask you ever again if you’ve miss-spelled it. I have used this for my name in the past, which is why this Spell Check process won’t pick up “Broomfield” or “Dexter”, and I also add in commonly used technical terms and jargon that comes up a lot in the texts I work with.
  • Change changes that instance of “misteaks” to “mistakes”. Any other examples will stay as they are
  • Change All changes every instance of “misteaks” to “mistakes”.
  • If you own a copy of Word 2013 outright or have a subscription and are logged into your Microsoft Office account, AutoCorrect is available and brings up the AutoCorrect screen (see this article for more on AutoCorrect) which allows you to set up an automatic correction for the future, so whenever you type “misteaks” it will change to “mistakes”. This is really useful if you notice that you’re mistyping a word regularly.

Grammar check in Word 2013

Grammar check not only highlights where you’ve gone wrong, but gives you a little lesson in the Spell Check panel, too:

Word 2013 spell check grammar check

I find the grammar checker to be quite rigid and a bit odd. It’s up to you whether you allow grammar checking, and instructions for tweaking the Spell Checker will appear in a later article.

What if I change my mind or make a mistake?

In Word 2007 and 2010 there was a handy button in the Spell Check dialogue box that allowed you to undo previous changes. This has gone in Word 2013, so if you realise you’ve made a mistake, you will need to use the Undo button (or press Control-Z) to go back to correct your mistake.

Does Spell Check ever get it wrong?

In short – yes. See the main article for more explanation and examples.

Help – my Spell Check’s making everything go into American English!

Your Spell Checker will work with whatever variety of English (or any other language) that your text is set to. So if you have your text set to be in American English, that’s the language your Spell Check will use. Learn how to change the language of your document and your editing language  – and watch out, as your comment boxes might appear in another language, too, which will upset your Spell Checker – use this article to make sure your comment language matches the rest of the document.

Can I use spell check in other applications ?

Wherever you see a button like this, you should find a spell check option:

spell check icon

In this article we’ve looked at Spell Check in Word 2013 and how it differs from previous versions. In future articles I’ll be sharing how to tweak your Spell Check settings, how to tell Spell Check NOT to look at particular text, and when to use Spell Check when you’re working with an editor. Oh, and there will be a parallel post on Spell Check in Word 2013, too!


This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. If you’ve enjoyed the post or found it useful, please use the sharing buttons below to share it via your social media networks – thank you!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007 and Word 2010 for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Other useful posts on this blog

Spell Check in Word 2007 and Word 2010

How to change the language of your Word document

How to change your editing language

How to change the language of your comment boxes

How to use AutoCorrect

How to add buttons to the Quick Access Toolbar

Find all the short cuts here … and see the full resource guide here.


Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , , , , ,

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