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Changing Colors of Spelling and Grammar Underlines

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Changing Colors of Spelling and Grammar Underlines.

One of the built-in tools for Word is real-time spell-checking and grammar-checking. Using the default configuration of the program, Word displays potential spelling errors with a wavy red underline and potential grammar errors with a wavy green underline. This presents a problem for people who may be red-green color blind, as they will not be able to tell which type of error is which on-screen. The solution would be to change the colors of the underlines, but Word doesn't provide a built-in way to make the change.

One possible solution is to play with the color settings for Windows as a whole. You can go to the Accessibility Options (in the Control Panel) and click the Display tab. Near the top of the tab you can turn on the High Contrast option, and you can click the Settings button to tinker with the display options. You may need to experiment a bit, but this approach could give desirable results not just in Word, but in other applications as well.

You can also use the Support.dot template, provided with various versions of Word, to change the underline colors for both spelling and grammar checking. It appears that the Support.dot template makes this particular change possible in Word 2000 and Word 2003. The template is not installed by default with Word; you will need to use the Setup program to install the template, then you'll need to perform the following four discrete steps:

  1. Start Word without any add-ons running (using the /a switch from the command line).
  2. Open the Support.dot template.
  3. Use the options presented by the template to change the SpellingWavyUnderlineColor setting and the GrammarWavyUnderlineColor setting.
  4. Close Word and restart the program normally.

The way you install the Support.dot template and perform the four steps depends on which version of Word you are using. The best instructions for how to accomplish them is included in Microsoft's Knowledge Base, at the following addresses:

Word 2002: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/284845
Word 2003: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/820917

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (417) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Changing Colors of Spelling and Grammar Underlines.

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