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Limiting a Spelling Check

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: Limiting a Spelling Check.

Cathy routinely creates 1000+ page documents with table names and abbreviations that stop Word's spellchecker in its tracks. Checking the spelling of such huge documents is very time-consuming, and Cathy feels it would be much more efficient if she could skip certain sections of text in the document. She wondered if there is a way to make the spelling checker skip over sections of text and begin or resume its review at a spot that she can determine manually.

There are two things you can try. First of all, if your abbreviations are standardized in any manner, such that they are used in lots of your documents, just add the abbreviations to the custom dictionary used by the spelling checker. While this may take a while, it will mean much faster spell checking as your custom dictionary grows to be more representative of the types of documents you create.

The second thing to try is based on the reality that, in Word, "language" is a text attribute, like typeface or color. Word's spell checker determines how to check text based on the language in which the text has been formatted. Thus, if you have French and English in the same document, Word will check the whole document in one pass, switching language tools based on the language formatting applied to different parts of text.

If you don't want Word to check the spelling of certain text, it can be formatted as "No Proofing," which can be viewed as just another language designation for that text. To do this select the text, choose Tools | Language, and select the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar checkbox.

If you want to turn off proofing for large sections of your document, you may want to define a paragraph style that has the proofing turned off. This style can then be easily applied to various paragraphs, as needed. For instance, you could have a style called Body Text, and then create a new style, based on Body Text, called Body Text NP. The only difference would be that the Body Text NP style would have proofing turned off. Once you were satisfied with the spelling and grammar in a paragraph, switch that paragraph's style to Body Text NP, and it won't be checked in the future.

If you prefer to use a macro to explicitly turn off proofing for a block of text, the following will work just fine. Select the text you want to format in this manner, and then run the macro.

Sub NoProofing()
    Selection.NoProofing = True
End Sub

The only possibly unpleasant artifact of turning off proofing for text is that Word's automatic hyphenation tool will not work for text formatting in that way.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (432) 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: Limiting a Spelling Check.

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