Tag Archives: research

More Control Key keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-J and more

hands typing I have previously written about the wonders of Control-F and how this keyboard shortcut  finds text in almost everything (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, web pages, WordPress back-end, etc., etc., etc). Then I discussed other Control- or Ctrl+ keyboard shortcuts that you can use to copy and paste, embolden, italicise and underline, find, goto and replace, undo, redo and open, new, print and save. But I’ve recently had some questions about the remaining Control Key commands, so let’s round up what they do.

Why do we use keyboard shortcuts?

Keyboard shortcuts are used to save wear and tear on the wrists, to interact with a computer in other ways than just using two hands and a mouse, to save time, and, maybe, to show off your amazing computer skills.

What are the rest of the keyboard shortcuts using the Control key, then?

Ctrl-D – open the Font dialogue box using Control Key + D

Ctrl-E – centres the text in which the cursor is situated (this acts a toggle, so will un-centre centred text)

Ctrl-J – makes the text in which the cursor is situated become fully justified (again, this is a toggle, so the text will return to left justification (in a left-to-right alphabet document) if it’s already fully justified)

Ctrl-K – opens the Hyperlink dialogue box – make sure you have the text that you want to create a link for highlighted before pressing Control + k

Ctrl-L – makes the text in which the cursor in situated become left-justified (a toggle, so if it’s already only left-justified, pressing this will return the text to its full justification)

Ctrl-M – increases the indent on the left (much like the Tab key)

Ctrl-Q – removes indenting, so if you haven’t got any, it will seem this doesn’t do anything

Ctrl-R – makes the text in which the cursor is located become right-justified (a toggle, so pressing this in text that is already right-justified will change it to left-justified)

Ctrl-T – moves just the bottom indent slider across one tab at a time to create a hanging indent

Ctrl-W – closes the document, giving you the option to save


Did you know ALL of these shortcuts? They’ll save you some mouse clicks and some are a lot quicker and more useful than the other methods you can use to get the same results. Which are your favourites?

Related posts on this blog:

How to find text almost anywhere

Changing from lower case to upper case

Using the Control key shortcuts (the ones that aren’t here)

Find all of the short cuts here


Posted by on September 27, 2017 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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Can I edit what I am not? Editing outside your direct sphere of knowledge

DictionariesThis year so far, I’ve worked on, among other things, a book about Black history in the UK, incorporating a number of responses in prose, poetry and rap which reflected the spoken norms of inner city youth; a project about (very) experimental architecture; and a book giving advice to gay men on dating and relationships. I’ve transcribed interviews with bands I know nothing about, and I’ve localised texts about items I’m never going to use. As a straight, white woman who is not an experimental architect, doesn’t follow those bands and is unlikely to use a remote-controlled helicopter, should I have engaged with these texts where I was quite clearly the “Other” in the relationship or knew little about the topic? Or should I stick very closely to what I know?

I think it’s fine to edit and otherwise work on texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you’re flexible, keep the audience in mind, are willing to learn and keep an open mind. I also think that there are limits to what you can work on, and I’ll talk about that, too.

Why I think it’s OK to edit outside your direct experience

It’s my personal opinion that it’s OK to edit texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you bear a few things in mind.

  • Be flexible. The language of an inner-city rap poet might not be the same as your own casual register, let alone the register you use for formal academic writing. Think about the conventions of what you’re working on, not your own preconceptions, go with the flow and keep things consistent and clear (which is the editor’s mantra anyway)
  • Be open-minded. The advice given in a dating book on apps for hooking up with people might be way beyond your comfort zone as a happily married, middle-aged woman, but that doesn’t mean you’re right and it’s wrong, or bad, it’s just different. Which leads on to …
  • Think of the audience. What will the readers of this book want? Is the relaxed style with all the I’d and should’ve contractions something that they will feel more comfortable with? Leave those in.
  • If you’ve got a good amount of life experience and a solid general knowledge, that will see you a long way into an unfamiliar topic.

Why I think it’s positively GOOD to edit outside your direct experience

The good editors I know are wise in knowing what they don’t know and seeking to expand their knowledge. They love to learn. What teaches you more than grubbing around in the very innards of a text on something you never even knew existed? There are other positives, too.

  • By approaching the text as the “Other” (while retaining a sensible approach to the privileges you might have as someone who is not usually the “other”), you might be able to suggest subtleties or pick up on attitudes that are going too far the other way. Maybe you can help reassure an author and their readers that people outside the core audience DO understand / empathise.
  • More importantly and commonly, the aim of all writing should be to be clear and express its author’s intentions clearly. So if you, as an outsider, don’t understand the text, maybe it does need to be simplified a little. If I don’t understand something on the second or third go, I’ll pop a comment in the margin that this might need to be clarified.
  • I think I have a tendency to edit better and more carefully when I’m working on something slightly unfamiliar. It’s like editing your own writing: if you really know the topic, you tend to see what you expect to read, and may skim over errors. I know I have this propensity, so I work extra hard on texts on known topics, and try not to enjoy the process too much at the expense of doing a good job!
  • You learn all sorts of things that might be useful in your everyday life, the next thing you edit, or even pub quizzes. Your next client will benefit from that extra knowledge (or maybe the one after that – I edited a load of texts on Agile working a few months ago, so can cheerfully say I know all about it when another prospective text comes in).

When I think it’s NOT good to edit outside your direct experience

There are some occasions when I do think a text is best left alone. Complete incomprehension of a technical topic or genre is not going to make for a good editing process. I pass those jobs along to a colleague (and get some co-opetition karma in the process). Examples in my own work of jobs I’ve turned down have included:

  • A book all about optimising your motor vehicle engine use, with lots of diagrams and examples. I know nothing about this, and there was little value I could add to something so technical.
  • A localisation job where I would have had to research European legislation on a topic I knew little about to start off with, and match it up to US legislation. That’s too dangerous to mess with.
  • Editing novels in genres I am not familiar with myself such as romance and science fiction – you do need to know your genres if a book is to be edited to fit into them. I’ve actually pretty well stopped working on fiction apart from the odd thriller for an on-going client, as they are pretty well all in genres where I know someone else will do a better job.
  • Specialised transcription – medical and legal in particular. I’ll cheerfully type about makeup I don’t wear or economic policy that can be checked easily, but I don’t go near the specialised terminology used in medical and legal transcription.

In summary … in my opinion, it’s good to stretch the boundaries of the areas you work on and to edit and otherwise work with texts on topics that are unfamiliar, unless the level of technical or specialist content is high enough that you are floundering and uncomprehending. In that case, there’s always someone who  knows more about the topic that you can pass it on to. Happy learning!

What are your thoughts on the subject?


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How do I change the numbering style of footnotes and endnotes in Word?

As part of my series on footnotes and endnotes, here’s how to change your footnote and endnote numbering styles on the go (e.g. while editing someone’s work, or when you change your mind, or when you’re working to a particular journal’s style and need to amend something you’ve already written)  in Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013.

Why would I want to change my footnote or endnote numbering style?

The main reason to change your footnote or endnote numbering style is because of the style guide of whatever you’re writing the document for. For example, academic journals will usually have some form of Guidelines for Authors which will lay out (sometimes) the font, heading styles, reference styles and footnote styles that you are expected to use. If you’re re-using an article which has been rejected by another journal, or repurposing a chapter of your PhD, you might find that the style for one journal is different from what you’ve done previously.

Alternatively, you may just decide you would prefer to use roman numerals, arabic numerals, symbols or whatever for your footnotes or endnotes, and want to change them.

How to change the number format for footnotes/endnotes

In this example, we’re starting off with some footnotes or endnotes that use roman numerals (i, ii, iii …):

footnote with roman numeral

Now, we want to change them to, for example, arabic numerals (1, 2, 3 …)

First of all, go to the Footnotes menu. This is in the References tab, and there’s a whole area called Footnotes:

Footnote menu

Click the little arrow at the bottom right of the Footnotes area to access the Footnote and Endnote menu. Once you’ve clicked on the little arrow, you should see this menu:

footnote menu dialogue box word

We can see lots of things we can do here, including changing the number footnotes start at, whether they restart every chapter, etc. (these more obscure details will be the subject of another article). But for our purposes, the important features are choosing whether you’re telling Word about Endnotes or Footnotes and telling Word what the number format should be.

In this case, we’re using Endnotes (although these instructions cover both), so I’ve clicked the radio button (circle) next to Endnotes. This tells Word that we’re using Endnotes and talking about the Endnote numbering.

Going down one section, you can see that at the moment, the Number format is set to i, ii, iii … To change this, click on the down arrow to the right of the box saying i, ii, iii … (if the Endnotes are set to 1, 2, 3 or a, b, c, this will display in this box):

footnote menu change style

Once you’ve clicked that arrow, you will be able to see all of the choices you have for your footnote or endnote numbering. Now click on the format that you want to use:

footnotes change numbering style word

The Number format will now change to the one that you have chosen. Once you have got the correct format in this box, click the Apply button to apply the changes:

footnotes apply change word

When we return to our document, the endnote numbering has changed from a roman numeral (i) to an arabic numeral (1). You can change this as many times as you want.

footnote with correct style word

This article has explained how to change the number format in your footnotes or endnotes.

Related posts from this blog:

How to insert and format footnotes

How to insert and format endnotes

How to swap between using footnotes and endnotes

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013, all 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!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on June 3, 2015 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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Is this editor weird? or, It’s all about the books (am I allowed to use that phrase?)

Pile of style guides and dictionariesIt’s my birthday today, and I’m anxiously listening for the doorbell. I’m expecting a delivery … of a style book for an editing style I don’t use very often, but is the style being used for a large project I’m working on. I know that there are online dictionaries and guides to editing styles (although in fact the one for this particular guide is a bit tricky to access), but I just prefer to work with a printed work.

Is this editor weird for doing that, though?

I’ve talked about using paper for keeping records before now, over on my more personal blog (which started off as a record of going full time and is now more of a book review blog). I do my tax returns online, and I keep financial records on spreadsheets and using my accountant’s online software, but I like to note down the work I do for my clients in a book. I star and filter emails that have jobs to do in my email inbox, and have a Gantt Chart to help me work out my deadlines and priorities, but I write a list of jobs and a daily to-do list in a physical book, using a fountain pen.

So, I obviously like printed and paper materials and records.

I have a nice wide-screen monitor on my PC, on which I can fit two A4 pages comfortably. But, I like one of those to be the job I’m working on, and one to be my own style sheet (because even if you’re using a set style, there are always details you need to keep noted down to send to the client with the job or to go to anyone working on the document after you). So it suits me to have a book on my side desk, ready for consultation.

I make sure that I keep my editions up to date, which is pretty easy to do when you swim in a sea of lovely editorial colleagues, and I buy the new ones when they come out. If there’s something not in the editions, I might do an online search (or ask my colleagues), I certainly check Google for which use of a word is more common / Wikipedia (for the basics and links), Library of Congress and other sources for facts, etc., and when I’m doing other jobs such as transcribing or even localising, I look up online as I go along – but when I’m doing straight editing or proofreading, I like to use my books.

The funny thing is, I edit almost exclusively online. I’ve done thousands of jobs, and only two of them have been on paper (and one of those was a pro bono project, and the other was for someone who didn’t want me to use the standard proofing markup!). I wonder if I’d happily use an online source if I did more paper editing … I think not, actually.

Am I weird? Am I behind the times? Or do others of you eagerly await a lovely, shiny new style guide to pop through your door, even if it’s not coinciding with your birthday?


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How do I insert clip art in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 and other Microsoft Office applications?

I have to admit to being a little surprised when I was asked to post about clip art. I hadn’t used it for years, and I was taken back to the old days, when you used to buy a computer magazine with a free floppy disk full of clip art pictures …

However, the very useful point about clip art is that it’s copyright free and so simple to use: you can pop a MS Office clip art image into your presentation or document and know that you’ve not stolen someone’s work of art (although there are copyright rules about using them in commercial publications).

They’re also not as ‘cartoony’ as they used to be, including photographs as well as drawings, and there are some really good images: I found this great one when I searched for “editor”, for example!

clip art of editor holding book

From MS Word Clip Art

This article applies to Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Examples are taken from Word, but the process works in the same way in all applications.

Of course, choosing and inserting your clip art varies between Word (Excel and PowerPoint) 2007/2010 and Word (Excel and PowerPoint) 2013, so if you want the latter, please scroll down a bit to the relevant heading!

How do I use clip art in Word 2007 and Word 2010 and other Microsoft Office software?

Clip art is found in the Insert tab, in the Illustrations area (this is an image from Word 2010; the button in Word 2007 has a slightly different, but recognisable, icon and is in the same place):

Word 2010 insert clip art

Making sure that your cursor is at the point where you want the clip art image to appear, click the Clip Art button:

word choosing clip art

A clip art search area will appear in the right-hand margin. It’s pretty simple: you can enter a search term, and you can also choose which kind of media you are searching for (useful for PowerPoint presentations, for example, or if you only want photographs to illustrate your document):

Word clip art choose format

Leaving this on all media, let’s search for “teapot” – pop the word in the search box and click the Go button:

Word clip art search

You should then see a grid of clip art images:

clip art search results

Stop press – you might only find you have the option to search online now – as Microsoft have withdrawn the copyright-free clip art they had offered for so many years. I believe that if you have a standalone version of Word that doesn’t receive updates, the clip art will stay, otherwise you’ll just now have an option to search Bing. Very annoying!

clip art find more

Anyway, back to our 57 teapots (which is surely enough for anyone!). When you’ve found an image you want to insert, double-click on it and it will move into your document:

clip art insert image

You will also notice here that the image is selected and can be enlarged and reduced using the little blocks around the image outline. It can also be moved, if you hover inside the box until an arrow appears.

For more on placing images in text, please see this article.

How do I use clip art in Word 2013 and other Microsoft Office software?

For Office 2013, Microsoft went all online-based, and as a result, the way in which you access clip art changed. Note that these instructions work for both the standalone version of Word 2013 (and other software) if you bought it once, and the subscription version through Office 365 which downloads updates periodically.

You access clip art from the same menu, on the Insert tab, in the Illustrations area, but it’s now called Online Pictures:

clip art office 2013

Making sure your cursor is in the place where you want your picture to be, click on Online Pictures:

Word 2013 clip art search

You now have the option to search royalty-free illustrations on the clip art website or do a Bing Image search for general images.

Note Unless you have a completely standalone and isolated version of Word 2013, you will not now have the option to use clip art based within Word itself – you will probably just see Bing search. If you don’t get updates on your version of Word, it’s likely you will still have them, because Word can’t update itself to make them go away. Grrr, frankly.

Because I’m not logged in at the moment, I have the option to sign in with my Microsoft office account. If you are logged in, or do subsequently log in, you will get these additional options – OneDrive, Facebook and Flickr:

Word 2013 image search options if logged in(thanks to Laura Ripper for this screen shot)

To search in clip art, enter the search term “teapot” into the first text box and click on the magnifying glass icon:

Word 2013 clip art search

This will bring up the same results as for Word 2007 and 2010 (interestingly, you can’t differentiate at this stage between different kinds of file to insert, as you can with earlier versions):

Word 2013 clip art resultsDouble-click on the image you want to insert, or single click and click on the Insert button

Word 2013 clip art inserted

Note that in Word 2013, not only do you get the frame which allows you to change the image size, but the Layout Options dialogue box also pops out, allowing you to choose where the image sits in any text you might have.

For more on placing images in text, please see this article.

Related posts on this blog

How do I make pictures go where I want them to in Word?

How do I stop the pictures jumping around when I edit a Word document?


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, Word 2010 and Word 2013 and other Office software 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!

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


Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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How do I hide the toolbars and taskbars in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 and other MS Office applications?

In this article we’re going to learn how to (temporarily) hide the toolbars, taskbars, rulers and whatnot in Word.  Note that these processes will also work for other Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, PowerPoint, etc.

Why would I want to hide the taskbars in Word?

There are various reasons why you might want to have just a blank white screen in front of you when using Word. If you’re trying to write, write, write, you might want to remove all distractions. If you’re displaying Word on a large screen using a projector, there are many reasons why a plain screen with no additional information might be useful.

In fact, the second reason, wishing to display just some text and images via an overhead projector, is why I was asked to write this article in the first place.

How to hide taskbars and toolbars in Word

This works for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013: I’ve used Word 2010 in the example because it’s what I use most of the time, but the principles remain the same.

How to minimise the ribbon in Word

You might just want to minimise the ribbon. If this is the case, first right-click anywhere on the actual ribbon, then select Minimize the Ribbon from the menu that displays:

Word minimise ribbon

How do I reverse minimize ribbon?

To reverse the minimize ribbon action, you can either …

1. Right-click anywhere on the small ribbon headings that will appear and click again on Minimize the Ribbon: the tick will disappear and the ribbon will reappear:

un-minimize ribbon2. Click on the small down arrow that appears at the top right of the screen when the ribbon is minimised:

reverse ribbon minimise

How do I remove wording and symbols from the lower task bar

If you’re fed up of seeing your word count or document language in the lower task bar, you can right-click on the taskbar, at which point a list of all items you can display pops up, and you can untick the ones you don’t want:

remove items from lower task bar

You will see the displayed items at the bottom start to disappear until you’re left with just one:

remove from lower task bar

How do I reverse clearing the lower task bar?

To add items back on to the task bar, right-click on the taskbar and click on the features you want to see – the tick will reappear next to the items you select, and the information will display in the lower task bar.

How do I hide the rulers?

For instructions on hiding the rulers in Word, please see this article.

How do I hide all of the toolbars in Word and other Office applications?

If you want to go further and just have a blank screen, you can use the shortcut Alt+V, U

Note that you must follow this process to do this:

  • Press down the Alt key and keep it pressed down
  • Press the V key and release it (keeping Alt pressed down)
  • Press the U key and release it (you can then release the Alt key)

Pressing both letters together does not have the same effect. Once you’ve pressed this key combination, you will have just the document, no toolbars, taskbars, menus, etc. However, you are still likely to have the Windows taskbar showing.

Just a document, no toolbars

So you’re not quite there, but first …

How do I reverse Alt+VU?

The first time I did this, I got a bit panicky because I assumed that you needed to press AltVU again to get back to the menus, but that’s not what you do.

To reverse Alt+VU and get back to seeing your taskbars, hit the Escape key on your keyboard. Phew!

How do I hide the Windows taskbar?

You’ve got your lovely clean document showing but you want to get rid of that Windows taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Here’s what you do:

First, unlock the taskbar (if it is locked) by right-clicking on the lower task bar and seeing if Lock the taskbar is ticked. If it is, click on it to untick it.

unlock task bar windows

This dialogue box will disappear, so right-click on the taskbar again and this time choose Properties:

Windows taskbar properties

This will give you a new dialogue box:

Windows taskbar properties

Making sure that you’re in the Taskbar tab, click on the tickbox to Auto-hide thie taskbar.

The taskbar will now disappear, leaving you with a lovely clear screen containing only your document.

How do I reverse hiding the Windows taskbar?

To show the Windows taskbar, move the mouse to the bottom of the screen (assuming your Windows task bar is usually there), at which point it should appear. Then right-click at the bottom of the screen and select Properties, then untick Auto-hide the taskbar.


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, Word 2010 and Word 2013 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

How to display and hide rulers in Word

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 November 5, 2014 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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How to use spell check in Word 2007 and Word 2010

In this article we’re going to talk about using the spell checker function in Word, including how to find it, how to use it, and when not to believe it. This article works with Word 2007 and Word 2010 – screen shots are taken from Word 2010. I have written about Word 2013 separately as it’s a bit different.

What is Spell Check?

Spell check is a function in Word that will check both the spelling and appropriate word use in your document. It’s not perfect, but it will pick up all sorts of errors and typos that you might not realise you’ve made.

Spell Check will go through your document and highlight any words that it thinks are spelled incorrectly. If it can, it will offer alternative spellings for you to choose from. You can then choose to change the word to one of its suggestions, change all instances of that word to the suggestion, or ignore the “error” once or always.

We usually run a spell check after writing a document, although you can ask Word to check spellings as you go along (I personally find this distracting). It’s worth running it even if you think your writing is perfect and you’ve read through the document finding no mistakes – there’s always something, and that’s why, even though I’m an editor, I use spell check on my own posts and as a final check on documents I’ve edited, and why I have an editor for my books!

How do I start Spell Check?

We run Spell Check from the Review tab in Word:

How to start spell check

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the same icon in the Quick Access Toolbar at the very top of the document. 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:

spell check in action

Here, I started at the beginning of the text, but you’ll notice that it’s missed out “peace of txt” even though that is clearly wrong. We’ll look at that in a minute, but let’s concentrate on what happens when it gets it right.

What options does Spell Check give you?

Spell Check has highlighted “misteaks” and you can see in the Suggestions box below that it’s suggested the closest word first, then a few other options. “Mistakes” is highlighted, but if I did mean “mistake” or “mistreats”, I can click on one of those.

To the right, we have some buttons – Ignore Once / Ignore All / Add to Dictionary are to be used when we know what we typed is correct and we want to keep it; Change / Change All / AutoCorrect will allow us to make that change:

  • Ignore Once will ignore just that instance of the word in question
  • Ignore All will ignore that exact word throughout the rest of the piece
  • 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 will change just that instance of “misteaks” to “mistakes”. Any other examples will stay as they are
  • Change All will change every instance of “misteaks” to “mistakes”.
  • AutoCorrect 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.

I’m going to click on Change All, and this will automatically change all examples of “misteaks” to “mistakes” in the text. Note, however, that it will not change “misteak” – it only looks for the exact same word. This includes capital letters, so it will now flag up “Misteaks” as a new error and make some new suggestions, the second of which is the correct one. I do tend to click on Change All, so that I save time and mouse clicks correcting the same form of the same word over and over again.

Now, let’s see what else Spell Check will look at.

It will notice if you’ve missed out an apostrophe, even if the word “wont” is a word in itself:

spell check apostrophe

And it will check incorrect punctuation, too:

spell check punctuation

Finally. you can ask Spell Check to check your grammar, too. Here, it’s picked up that I started a sentence with a lower-case letter:

spell check grammar check

There’s a caveat here, though: I find the grammar checker to be quite rigid and a bit odd. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that I have Check grammar ticked in the above image but not in the others – this is because I tend to turn off the grammar checker when I’m working on my own texts and other people’s. It’s up to you whether you do that, and instructions for tweaking the Spell Checker will appear in a later article.

What if I change my mind or make a mistake?

If you make a misteak, oops, sorry, mistake when you’re changing words in Spell Check, there’s a handy button that will take you back.

Here, I’ve clicked on the first suggestion for “Misteaks” which was “MI steaks”. Oops. I only see it when I’ve already hit Change All. But I can click the Undo button to take me back to that set of choices, and you can click the Undo button more than once.

undo spell check

Having pressed Undo, we’re back to looking at “Misteaks” instead:

spell check undone

Does Spell Check ever get it wrong?

In our example, Spell Check has missed the obviously incorrect phrase “peace of txt”:

spell check in action

It does sometimes notice when you use an incorrect but valid word (i.e. it is actually a word in itself), but not always. I’m guessing that it’s ignored “txt” because that’s a file extension (like .doc) which is used when saving documents. So Spell Check hasn’t picked that up, and you or your editor will have to notice it yourselves!

It also uses rules which don’t match standard common usage. Right up until Word 2013, it thinks that proofreader is two words, hyphenated:

Spell check getting it wrong

This makes it quite embarrassing when I’m checking a client’s acknowledgements, they thank me for proofreading, and then have spell-checked their work, so I have to change it back to proofreading.

Word is also not keen on swear words, and can give amusing alternatives if you try that …

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 as well as Word?

Many applications have spell check functions. For example, the WordPress editor that I’m using to write this has a spell check button. so does my MailChimp newsletter editor, my email editor and Excel and PowerPoint. Wherever you see a button like this, you should find a spell check option:

spell check icon

In this article we’ve looked at what Spell Check is, how to access it, how to ignore and change words, and some things to watch out for. 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

Using Spell Check in Word 2013

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


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