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Wonderful page - wish I had found out what degree symbol meant (and therefore how to search for it) years ago - would have saved me hours and hours, especially when doing replacements in various versions of Word.

Suggestion: when you talk about using Reveal Characters to find extra spaces - why not mention that the grammar checker can find them for you (even if you don't give the details.) It can do this on the fly, or afterwards.

Either turn on grammar checking with default settings or - as I sometimes do - turn off everything in the checker except the Punctuation setting and my choice for spaces between sentences and then "re-check document".

You may know this perfectly well, but you mention learning as you go - which is what I did - so I'm adding this note just in case you hadn't come across it!

I'm sorry if this is the wrong place to send this note, but I couldn't see how to do it on the site.

I'm sending my query about another non-printing character as a separate post.

ANSWER: Would that setting in the grammar checker flag multiple spaces everywhere or just at the end of a "sentence" (that is, following a period, question mark, exclamation point)? Since I never use the grammar checker, and since it is not possible to run the grammar checker separately from the spelling checker (which would cause way too many stops), I would find this very cumbersome compared to just using Replace to replace two spaces with one.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: There's some separate issues here. Firstly some settings

Go to Options | Proofing and start with "Writing Style" and set it to "Grammar Only" and then click on the Settings button to get the Grammar Settings box.

The first set of options is labelled "Require" each of which has a default setting of "Don't check". The last of the three is "Spaces required between sentences" which you can leave at "Don't check" or put to "1" or "2". Until about a year ago I stuck to the training I got when I did typing lessons and used 2 spaces after at the end of a sentence, but recently gave in to modern practice and switched to 1 - so having something which will check that really helps.

The really useful thing about that setting is that it checks for "the end of a sentence" and not just "after a full stop" (what gets called a "period" in the US, I think." So it checks for question marks, inverted commas etc as well. This setting, however covers only the "end of sentence" surplus/deficit spaces.

If you go down to the second  section in the Grammar Settings, which is labelled "Grammar" there are lots of settings which are mostly enabled by default. As someone whose typing frequently goes astray and has the matter of hitting the Shift key the first thing that goes, I would always have the Capitalization box ticked normally. However, if I just wanted to check for spaces I would uncheck everything in that box, except for "Punctuation". Also check that everything in unchecked in the third section labelled "Style".

The Punctuation setting will check your punctuation generally - I have NOT checked this point very specifically for you, but I think when I've used it that it will see if it thinks you've got a comma where you meant a full stop/period or vice versa. It's quite often right in my case, though not always. Most usefully, however, it also checks for the existence of double (or triple) spaces between words and highlights each instance with the green underline.

In your case, for someone who does not use the spellchecker, I would then do the following. Having set those options above, click on OK and go back to the main Proofing window in your Options box. Down at the bottom, you will see two boxes which say "Hide spelling errors in this document only" and "Hide grammar errors in this document only". If you want to hide the spelling errors, then you can check that box, but leave the "Hide grammar errors" one unchecked - that will allow you FOR THIS DOCUMENT ONLY to check the grammar but not the spelling.

You can then chose whether you want to go through the document looking for the little squiggly green lines under your "punctuation errors" or whether you want to have Word take you through the process. If you want Word assistance then stay in the Options | Proofing screen and click on the button labelled "Check" or "Recheck" Document. This will bring up a box which will take you through the whole of the document showing you each "punctuation error" as you go.

What I did with old-fashioned Word (2000-2003) was to write a pair of simple macros which toggled the settings "show spelling errors" and "show grammatical errors" and put them on a custom toolbar. I used them all the time as I switched between documents when I very much needed my spellchecker on - administrative, medical or creative work and those when I really needed it off - when I was quoting fragments of code, or lots of bits of foreign language, for example.

What I would do in your case is to set the grammar settings to check punctuation and that only, and to set the "space after sentence" to 1 or 2 (whichever you use) and then click on OK and, if necessary put that into your Normal template. Then I would get another simple macro (like the one described above)  to make sure the spellchecking is turned off and the grammar checking turned on and put it on your Quick Access Toolbar. You could add it in the "Recheck Document" option to the macro, or just look for the green lines, depending on your way of working. (BTW it seems that you can't change the grammar settings using VBA without things getting VERY complicated, which is why I suggest putting them into your template.

It all sounds complicated but, like so many things in Word, it takes a little setting up and then you have a system which allows you, for example, to have 2 spaces at the end of a sentence whilst still highlighting double spaces in the middle. It also saves going through a long document twice so that you catch triple spaces as well as double ones.

I'd have to admit (under pressure) that it also just appeals to the inner geek - using a couple of neat settings rather than going through the "hunt" system that the search system requires. Anyway, I originally just wanted to say that it is worth flagging up these possibilities when you talk in the site about working with spaces on your "non-printing characters" page, which is so useful. It might apply to others who don't have your preferences re spellchecking or spaces.

This has turned into a paper not a simple reply - sorry if it's wasting your time. I think I have checked all my facts, but some typos may have crept through.

I am aware of all this, but (a) I still find it entirely impractical for personal use, and (b) I think it would be out of place in the article on nonprinting characters, which mentions checking for extra spaces only in passing. The most important obstacle to updating the article, however, is that it is posted on a website that is not under my control, and I find working with the webmaster so frustrating that I have already moved a lot of my articles from that site to my own ( Thank you for your interest.
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Suzanne S. Barnhill


I've been using Word for Windows since version 2.0 (1992), and the more I learn about it, the more I realize how little I know. But I may know a few things that you don't, and I'll help if I can. I answer many questions every day in Microsoft's peer support forums and as a result have been awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Professional) designation by Microsoft Corporation. You may be able to find the answer to your question at the Word MVPs' FAQ site or at my own Word FAQ site, so please check those first! Please, no questions about VBA (macros), Registry editing, networks, or complex merges, as I have no experience with these aspects of Word, nor do I have any experience with Word for Mac. Please indicate which version of Word you are using; if you are not sure, see "What version of Word do I have?".


I have a master's degree in classics (Latin), which is surprisingly helpful, though I no longer teach. The things I am proudest of: Having raised two children to maturity, both Merit Scholars, both college graduates (one a philosophy major!), one Phi Beta Kappa (from Harvard!); having been made a Paul Harris Fellow by my Rotary club; having been designated a Microsoft MVP.

Rotary Club of Fairhope, Friends of the Fairhope Public Library

B.A. (Latin), Agnes Scott College, 1966; M.A. (Classics), Emory University, 1972.

Awards and Honors
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award every year since 1999; many Rotary honors

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