How to spell check with keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word logo on a blue background

You may already be familiar with Microsoft Word’s built-in spelling and grammar checker that marks incorrect spelling and (sometimes) bad grammar. If you are reviewing a document that is full of errors, you can use these keyboard shortcuts to speed up the process.

What the spelling and grammar checker can and cannot do

Words spelling and grammar checker is enabled by default. When a word is misspelled, Word marks it with a wavy red underline. When there is incorrect grammar or formatting, Word marks it with two blue underscores.

Words spelling and grammar checker in action.

In the example above, Word detected two spaces between “John” and “eat”, so it marked it as a grammar problem. It also discovered that “eaten” was misspelled as “eighteen”, so it marked it as a misspelling.

This is the basic thing that Word searches for by default. However, you can make Word’s spelling and grammar checker work harder by enabling some additional features in the Settings menu (File> Options> Proofreading> Options). For example, you can get Word check for passive voice, split infinitives, redundant expressions and so on.

RELATED: How to improve Microsoft Word grammar check

The Advanced Grammar Options menu in Word.

You can also do things like exclude certain words from the control, check for inclusive languages, ignore URLs and more.

So what can not Word spelling and grammar check does that? However comprehensive it may seem, it often fails when it comes to noticing the incorrect use of a correctly spelled word. For example: “The naked ate the fish.”

The word cannot catch a misuse of a word.

In this case, Word did not succeed in capturing the incorrect use of “just”. That said, you can expect Word to detect a lot of issues in a document, but you can not trust it 100%. As a matter of good practice, always review your document before sending it out.

Using the keyboard shortcut for spelling and grammar checking

In Word, you can use the Alt + F7 keyboard shortcut to jump directly to the first error behind where the cursor is currently in the document. So to start with the first error, place the cursor at the beginning of the document or in front of the first error.

Place the cursor at the top of the Word document.

When you press Alt + F7, Word highlights the spelling or grammar error and allows you to either correct or ignore the problem. Press the up or down arrow button to highlight the desired setting, and then press Enter to select it.

Note that you can only highlight spelling and grammar suggestions with your arrow keys. To ignore the suggestion, click on this option with the mouse.

Choose to correct or ignore the error.

Spelling errors generally have several suggested fixes to choose from.

Choose a spelling suggestion.

You can also ignore the spelling mistake, just as you would with the grammar mistake. The only difference is that with spelling you can choose to (1) ignore each occurrence of the same error, or (2) just the specific error (although it is also found elsewhere in the document).

Ignore spelling mistakes.

Additionally, you can also add that word to the dictionary. When you do this, Word will no longer mark the word as an error. This is useful if the word happens to be part of an internal style guide or something similar.

Click the three dots to the right of “Ignore All,” and then click “Add to Dictionary” from the drop-down menu.

Add the spelling to the dictionary.

When you are ready to proceed to the next error, just press Alt + F7 again. Keep doing this until all the issues in the document have been checked.

Word grammar and spelling checks are very useful for reviewing the contents of a document, but it can be quite distracting when it throws errors back while writing. If it’s too distracting for you, you can turn it off as you type.

RELATED: To turn off spell-checking while typing in Microsoft Office

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