Disabling Spelling and Grammar Checking

Disabling Spelling and Grammar Checking

A Microsoft Word user recently asked a question in an online forum about a problem they were experiencing with automatic spelling and grammar checking.

At issue was a document that had industry specific phrases and terms. Word’s automatic spelling/grammar checkers were marking them with red and blue underlines.

The user knew they could add specific words to their custom dictionary and/or ignore the grammar revision suggestions, but their question was:

"If I send the document to someone, will the red and blue lines appear on their system?"

I was dismayed with the "Expert" responses shared. One sarcastic response said, "You need grammar-check on; your opening sentence tells us that is vital." Another supposed guru said, "Your settings have no effect on the document once it reaches someone else's desk. … sending them a PDF or XPS is a better option for you." After reading these responses all I could do was sigh and craft the correct response…


Word has a special setting to Show or Hide Spelling and Grammar errors in a document, and it only controls the visual display of the red and blue underlines. It does not stop the spelling and grammar from working.

In a separate article entitled, "Why Does Spellcheck Keep Turning Itself Off?" I explain how to turn off or on the actual functioning of spelling and grammar checking.

Proofing Dialog

These two setting that I am discussing now, one for Spelling and the other for Grammar, are at the bottom of the File > Options > Proofing dialog.

When marked, these settings only apply to the active document and the document keeps the preference setting. Meaning, when the document opens on a different computer the visual underlining of the spelling and grammar issues do not display. Manually invoking a Spelling and Grammar check still works and any found problems display.

This feature can be handy when supplying special purpose read-only documents that contain unique terms and phrases and you do not want them displayed as typos. Likewise, this feature can be problematic in documents you expect others to edit and contribute to … they may errantly think that they typed everything cleanly.

It is simple to turn this feature on and off by just going to the Proofing pane in Options and clearing the checkboxes.


Spelling and Grammar menu

If you are running the current Mac version of Word, look for these settings from the Menu Bar > Tools > Spelling and Grammar menu.

Microsoft Word Mac Menu Bar Tools > Spelling and Grammar

My one final comment on using these features that allow you to visually show or hide spelling and grammar errors is to be mindful with what you are doing, and it begs a question …

Without further editing, does the document you have authored and are ready to distribute appropriately represent your true professionalism?

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