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Adding Phrases to the Grammar Checker

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: Adding Phrases to the Grammar Checker.

Sheryl wonders if it is possible to add commonly used phrases to the grammar check so that they are not flagged as errors. Word flags them as either "wordy" or using too many nouns or verbs in a row, but her job requires documents with these phrases. Sheryl notes that the solution may be to turn off the grammar check, which she'd rather not do (even though Word is not exactly the arbiter of good grammar).

There is not really a good way to do this in Word. You could, if desired, modify the grammar options to exclude some of the individual settings so that some of the items aren't checked by the grammar checker. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Spelling & Grammar tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Spelling & Grammar tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Click on the Settings button. Word displays the Grammar Settings dialog box.
  5. Make the changes you want to make in the list of options.
  6. Click on OK to close the Grammar Settings dialog box.
  7. Click on OK to close the Options dialog box.

For the issues described by Sheryl, you'll want to pay particular attention to the following options in step 4:

  • Cliches, colloquialisms and jargon
  • Sentence structure
  • Successive nouns (more than three)
  • Unclear phrasing
  • Wordiness

Disabling all or a combination of these options may resolve the problem. If it doesn't, then the best solution is to follow these general steps:

  1. Type a phrase that you use on a regular basis.
  2. Select the phrase, making sure not to include any spaces or punctuation after the phrase.
  3. Display the Language dialog box. (Choose Tools | Language | Set Language.) (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Language dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Do Not Check Spelling or Grammar check box is selected.
  6. Click OK.
  7. With the phrase still selected, press Alt+F3. Word displays the Create AutoText dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  8. Figure 3. The Create AutoText dialog box.

  9. Click OK. Word creates an AutoText entry for the phrase.
  10. Delete the phrase you typed in step 1.

Now you can insert the AutoText entries in your document, as needed, and they won't be checked by the grammar checker. This is a bit more work than disabling a few grammar options, but it has the added benefit of providing a standardized way of making sure your spelling and capitalization is always correct on those phrases.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7600) 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: Adding Phrases to the Grammar Checker.

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