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 Ampersands to Custom Dictionaries.

Adding Ampersands to Custom Dictionaries

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 13, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Richard is using the corporate name "at&t" in a document. Word does not like the lowercase name and wants to capitalize it. The wavy green line indicates a grammar issue, and Richard cannot find a way to fix this. He tried editing the custom dictionary but the dictionary would not accept words with ampersands.

It could be that Word kept suggesting capitalizing the name because it really should be capitalized. While the letters "at&t" are used in lowercase in some advertising for the corporate behemoth, it appears that the name really is uppercase. (See the www.att.com Website for examples of this.)

That being said, if you really want to make the letters lowercase without getting any notation that this is incorrect, there are a couple of things you can try. First, and perhaps easiest, is to simply add the letters to the dictionary. Don't do it by trying to add the letters directly, but instead type them in the document, do a spell check, and when the letters are displayed as an error, try to add them at that point. This approach lets Word deal with how the letters should be specifically added to the dictionary.

If this doesn't work for some reason, you can employ AutoCorrect to help you out. Follow these general steps:

  1. Type "at&t" (without the quotes) and select it.
  2. Mark the selection so that it is not checked for spelling or grammar.
  3. With the "at&t" still selected, display the AutoCorrect tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box. (See Figure 1.) (You are going to create a new AuotCorrect entry.) The selected text should be displayed in the Replace With box.
  4. Figure 1. The AutoCorrect tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  5. In the Replace box, enter "at&t", without the quotes.
  6. Click the Formatted Text radio button. It is important that this radio button be selected.
  7. Click the Add button to create the AutoCorrect entry, and then close the dialog box.

Now, when you type at&t, AutoCorrect kicks in and replaces the letters with the formatted version. How are they formatted? To ignore spelling and grammar checks, so the wavy underlines never appear.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (518) 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 Ampersands to Custom Dictionaries.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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