Is It "Your" or "You're"? Word Can Help You

Q. The new word processing programs with grammar and spell-checking features have been very helpful, but there’s a problem that my Word spell check can’t solve. I hope you can. When I type quickly sometimes I key in “your” for “you’re,” “manger” for “manager” or “widow” for “window.” The spell check fails to catch those errors because these are real words, although not the words I want. Can you help?

A. You’re not alone on this. There is a way although it’s a little complicated because Microsoft doesn’t include a simple solution in the AutoCorrect function—the logical place for it.

The trick is to get Word to flag (with the wiggly red underscore) the troublesome words so you can take a second look at them. To do that we must trick Word into ignoring its dictionary just for those words you tend to type incorrectly by creating an “exclude” dictionary. You may be surprised to learn that such a dictionary sometimes exists in Word. Unfortunately, not only does Microsoft give it a totally unrecognizable name, but you cannot edit the file in the Word format and, worse, there is no hint of any of this in the Help file.

In Word 97, the exclude file is called Mssp2_en.exc, and, unless you’ve customized the application, you’ll find it either under C:WindowsMsappsProof or C:Program FilesCommon FilesMicrosoft SharedProof .

In Word 2000, it’s called Mssp3en. exc and you’ll find it, if at all, either at C:WindowsApplications DataMicrosoftProof or, if you’re using the multiuser feature, it’ll be under C:WindowsProfilesUserNameApplication DataMicrosoftProof .

If you can’t find it in those folders, do a search by clicking on Start, Find, Files or Folder , and search for Mssp*.exc . Note that it’s exc, not exe (the file name may or may not have the underscore, so search for it both ways).

If you have such a file, open it in Word, add the words you wish and be sure to save the file in text—not in Word—by clicking on File, Save as and then choosing the text option.

If you don’t have such a file, you can create it: Open a Word document, type in the words you want to flag as misspellings (once with an initial capital and once in lowercase, so both instances are included). Be sure to perform a carriage return after each word. Then save the file in C:WindowsProfilesUserNameApplication DataMicrosoftProof or in the folder where the Proof folder is situated. And then save the file in text format with this file name:


Before the exclude feature will work, you must close Word and restart it.

Exhibit 6

Teach Word to flag as misspelled troublesome words like “they’re” and “their” by creating an “exclude” dictionary.
Do you have a technology question for this column? Send it to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881. We regret that we cannot answer letters individually. If a question asked by a reader is deemed to have sufficiently broad interest, we will answer it in a forthcoming Technology Q&A column.

—The editors


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