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: Ignoring Punctuation in Names.

Ignoring Punctuation in Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 27, 2021)

Many companies these days are coming out with product names that include some sort of punctuation. We are all familiar with Yahoo! and how they added the exclamation mark (as a formal part of the company name), probably to denote excitement. Many other companies are doing the same thing. This is all fine and good from a marketing standpoint, but it can cause misery when you are trying to do a spelling and grammar check in Word.

What happens is that when Word does the spell check, it ignores all punctuation. Thus, even if you add the product name (with the punctuation mark) to the custom dictionary, it still ignores the punctuation and finds a spelling error during the spell check. Later, when it does a grammar check, it doesn't ignore the punctuation, and it considers the punctuation (in this case an exclamation point) as the end of the sentence. Instead of viewing your sentence as a whole, Word treats it as two fragments and generates the appropriate grammar warnings. If you have a document with your product name used many times, this can be a real pain!

Enterprising Word users may believe they can fix the problem by selecting the product name (with the punctuation) and setting the language to (no checking). The problem is that while Word will not find a spelling problem with the product name, it will still find a grammar problem because it sees the non-capitalized letter following the punctuation mark.

Believe it or not, there is a solution (besides changing the product name). The core part of the solution is to replace the exclamation mark with a symbol. That way, the grammar checker will ignore it when doing punctuation checks. Do the following:

  1. Type the product name without the exclamation mark.
  2. Choose Insert | Symbol. Word displays the Symbol dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Symbol dialog box.

  4. In the Font drop-down list, select the Symbol font.
  5. In the list of symbols, choose the exclamation mark. It is the second character on the top row.
  6. Click the Insert button.
  7. Click Close.

You now have your exclamation mark that isn't really an exclamation mark, and Word ignores it during both spelling and grammar checking.

It also means that, if AutoCorrect As You Type is on and Word normally auto-corrects first letter capitalization for sentences, it will ignore the symbol version of the exclamation mark and not auto-correct where it's not required. In other words, the first word after the product name won't be automatically capitalized as you type.

The only remaining problem is that going through the Insert Symbol route is a bit too much like hard work. What would be better is to type the product name using the normal exclamation mark but have it automatically change itself to use the symbol version. Assuming the product name has been typed and the symbol exclamation mark added as above, then follow these steps:

  1. Select the product name including the symbol exclamation mark.
  2. Choose the AutoCorrect option from the Tools menu. (In Word 2002 and Word 2003 you choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu.) Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box (See Figure 2.) with the selected text already entered in the With box and the Formatted Text option already selected.
  3. Figure 2. The AutoCorrect dialog box.

  4. In the Replace box type the product name with a normal exclamation mark.
  5. Click the Add button.
  6. Click Close to close the dialog box.

Now, typing the name and using a normal exclamation mark will result in that normal exclamation mark automatically changing to the symbol version—the spelling and grammar checkers will ignore it and so will automatic capitalization.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1834) 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: Ignoring Punctuation in Names.

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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