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Microsoft Word/Word 2010 spellcheck misses a word


QUESTION: Hi Suzanne - one of my co-workers using Word 2010 created a document with the word "APPENDICES" in it, except he misspelled the word like this: AFPENDICES. Word completely missed it. It caught other words in the document, and the misspelled word isn't in his custom dictionary. Any idea what might have happened?


ANSWER: As a general rule, when Word doesn't flag a word as misspelled, it's because (a) the spelling is acceptable (as in the situation where UK English accepts words with both -ize and -ise suffixes, even though many Britons regard one or the other as incorrect), (b) the spelling is actually correct in another language, which is the language applied to the text, or (c) the text in question has been marked as "Do not check spelling or grammar." Needless to say, (c) is the most common case. As explained in my article at, language is a font format that can be applied to text just like bold or italics. Theoretically, it can be applied to as little as a single letter, though in practice I have had no luck with marking just parts of a word as "no proofing."

In any case, the general solution is to make sure that no text in your document is formatted as "Do not check..." The simplest approach is to select the entire document (Ctrl+A) and then go to the Language group on the Review tab, click Language, then Set Proofing Language, and make sure that the check box for "Do not check spelling or grammar" is completely clear. If it is filled (shaded), click twice to check and then clear it.

Ctrl+A will select only the document body, so it won't affect headers and footers and other text that is not in the main document, but this should take care of most of the issues. If you have problems in other specific areas (such as a header or footer), select the text there and repeat the process.

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

QUESTION: Suzanne - thanks as usual for your prompt reply! We this doc and selected the entire thing, and the "Do not check" button was shaded, so we removed that. But Word still didn't put a wavy red line under the misspelled word. Then we removed a letter and put it back in, and we got the red line.

Just for grins I opened this doc on my computer (Word 2013), and the misspelled word wasn't underlined. I selected just the word, but the "Do not check button" was not checked or shaded. So I removed and replaced a letter, and got the red line.

This is confusing to me, because I'm not sure how to know when Word will work right. Does my co-worker need to check the "Do not check" button for all of the documents he sends out? I don't think I've seen this problem before.

I haven't seen anything quite like that, but I've seen the reverse--where a word was flagged as incorrect, and I corrected it, and it was still underlined. Usually it's just a matter of screen updating. If you page down and back up or switch to Print Preview and back, you will probably get the correct display. The bottom line, though, is that it is an intermittent problem of indeterminate cause that's pretty much impossible to troubleshoot.
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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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