How To Fix A Spell Check Dictionary


Q. The other day I accidentally added an incorrect spelling to my Word dictionary after clicking on Add when it questioned the spelling of a word by underlining it with a wavy red line. So I screwed up my courage and went into the Word dictionary and edited out the misspelling. I felt pretty proud of myself—until I discovered that now the spell-check feature doesn’t work. Did I break it?

A. Rest assured, you didn’t break it. In fact, I congratulate you for venturing into the subterranean realm of Word to fix the error. Before I tell you how to “fix” what you didn’t break, however, I’ll describe what you did so others who may have done the same can correct it.

When Word comes across a misspelling, it generates a wavy red line under the word: mispelling .

If you right-click on it, you are given a choice of alternative words that Word thinks you meant to have typed, or you can click on Add , to insert the new word into its dictionary. But if want to remove that word for any reason, you must go into the dictionary and fetch it. To do that, click on Tools, Options and the Spelling & Grammar tab. Then click on the Dictionaries button and select a dictionary (it’ll probably be CUSTOM.DIC unless you added some special dictionary) and then the Edit button. All the words you added will be listed. You can add, change or omit a word.

Now, here’s where our correspondent fell into a trap. Every time you edit—or even open—a dictionary file, Word automatically disables its spell-checking feature. It does provide a warning when you open or edit a dictionary, but that caution is easy to miss.

To turn the spell-checker back on, go back to the Spelling & Grammar tab and click on t he Check spelling as you type option, and then click on OK .

Do you have a technology question for this column? Send it to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at zarowin@mindspring.com 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 reader’s question is deemed to have sufficiently broad interest, we will answer it in a forthcoming Technology Q&A column.

—The editors

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