Software

Keep Word from mistakenly changing what you type

Word can be very handy for correcting mistakes, but sometimes what Word perceives as an error is actually an intentional keystroke. Mary Ann Richardson explains how to keep Word from automatically correcting keystrokes that aren't missteps.

You're editing your report and suddenly you notice that Word changed the word you just typed to something that changes the meaning. You go back and retype it, and Word changes it again. It could be that someone has added an entry to AutoCorrect that matches what you typed. For example, when you type the state abbreviation NJ, Word changes it to Nancy Jones, who happened to add NJ as an AutoCorrect entry for her name.

If you check the entries in the AutoCorrect list, and find none of the words you typed there, then Word is using a spell check option designed to replace your words with suggested words from the spell checker. So, how do you prevent Word from changing your words without turning off the spell checker? Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options.
  2. Click the AutoCorrect tab, and clear the Automatically Use Suggestions From The Spell Checker check box.
  3. Click OK.

Now when you type a Word that the spell checker thinks is incorrect, it will not replace it without your permission.

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21 comments
nospam
nospam

I know the theory about autocorrect, but it just does not seem to be true. It is autocorrecting things that I do not want it to autocorrect, so I go to tools>autocorrect and search in the list, but there is no mention of the entries being autocorrected. E.g. I can't write "Planned" because "plann" is autocorrected, but there is no entry "plann" (or anything close) in the list of items in autocorrect. Here is a screen shot of the list of autocorrect entries when I try and write planned it just gets as far as plan and then no matter how many times I type another "n" it is ignored. I have to type planed and then go back and manually correct. There are other instances of this happening, the above is just an example. Tim

No name specified
No name specified

I am a pretty good typist and, therefore, confident that what I type is correct. However, my confidence faults at the fact that I am not a "look at the screen as you type" person. Sure I make some typos here and there, but that is what the spell-check is for, allowing me to choose the correct spelling or word for what I meant. Having Word choose my words is taking the risk of not catching it doing so, thus giving a different meaning to what I am about to show or send to someone else, for the changes can often be such that even the grammar check does not flag either. This function works great when you want to replace a few letters with long phrases or sentences, like in a law office where much is repetitive and titles are long. Allowing Word to choose words for you is like using the online translators for a full document and believing that what they say is 100% correct. Are you positive that you catch every instance? Doesn't it tire you to be ever so vigilant of POSSIBLE automatic changes? Cheers.

lefflerster
lefflerster

I agree with not turning off AutoCorrect, 'cause then you'll have to remember to turn it back on. How about removing the ambiguous entry from the AutoCorrect list instead?

ng
ng

Or you can hit Ctrl + z to undo what Word has mistakenly changed.

Jellyyacht
Jellyyacht

Personally, I turn all the rubbish "help" off, I find it unintuitive and poor. One of my servers is called NWE and word corrects it to NEW every time I try to write a document, frustrating? Very. Microsoft, some of us can spell and our punctuation does not need correcting, so, please let us turn it ON if we feel we need it and don't assume we are all illiterate by default. Climb off soapbox. Bow, and leave. :)

aad0002
aad0002

For the longest time, I had been thinking I was the culprit. Not trying hard enough. I proofread all the time, think I have caught everything, only to look at the final document --- too late in the game --- and behold, another substitution is there. I kind of suspected autocorrect was behind the problem, but now I know what I have to do.

stooobeee
stooobeee

There are times when using things to replace us is a good thing. Although we are extremely complicated machines, there are simpler machines that can do what we do better; for instance, the gun is far smaller, can fire projectiles at much greater velocities than we can throw them, are far more accurate, and can do things at a distance far better than we are able; the horse is swifter, the leopard has more stealth, the dog can hear more acutely...etc. Why should I use a wooden wheel when I can use a rubber one? What reason would I have for manually using Word when I can do the work much faster automatically? Yet there are no excuses for not checking the work we do, and simply because no other machine is capable of knowing what we intend. Even when machines that reproduce exactly the same product a thousand times, we use inspectors to take samples of the work we do intermittently to make certain, on the average, that all of the product is within standards. Who in their right mind would let Word write a Cover Letter and bet that it will write our perfect intentions? No. We examine every word ourselves to make certain that what we are sending is exactly what we've determined. Therefore, as with all machines, we depend upon them, but we use common sense to dictate just how much. Word is a tool, not a perfect tool, but a tool that along with good judgement, can be a greater asset than only using a pencil. Surely I might trust Word to write a list of grocery items in Spanish; I might not trust it similiarly to be an international interpreter for negotiations in a peace treaty or a declaration of war.

celarson
celarson

I agree that autocorrect, spell check, and grammar check are all wonderful tools, but I still think you need to actually read what you create before passing it on to someone else. Trying to let the automatic tools do everything for you is a lazy way out and leads to error.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

time to set it up correctly. It is possible to have it use only the auto correct list entries and not look in the dictionary for corrections. Set this way, with the list limited to the words that you want it to correct for you, such as often misspelt words or special names, then it works wonders. My biggest problem with it, is when I'm using another system and I haven't set it up, it will often choose it's own corrections that are wrong for the context. Often my right hand will hit keys faster than my left and the right hand key will enter before the left hand key. An example being the ofrm instead of from - usually auto correct will change this to form and it will pass the spell checker. If it's left as ofrm the spell checker will alert it and I can make a decision. The issue for me is that the auto correct works without being obvious - unless you keep your eyes glued to the monitor. Not a recommended option when typing from a book or a written document, or talking, or thinking, or etc. With an auto correct limited to my special list, I type away, then run a spell checker when finished. Works perfectly every time then.

JamieM
JamieM

[Ctrl]Z (Undo) is a very handy tool. But, it doesn't always work with an autocorrect entry. I have used the 'Undo' to reverse an errant autocorrection, only to have it re-autocorrected as soon as I started typing, again. A very frustrating experience, to say the least. As others have mentioned in this post, I use autocorrect to simplify and speed my typing, so, turning it off is not something I want to do. I agree with those who recommend modifying offending autocorrect entries to fit your needs, as you work. The minute it takes, usually fixes the issue, permanently. I also have the same opinion as those who advocate editing your compositions (including email) before you allow them into the hands of others. Autocorrect, as well as hurried typing, occasionally results in statements that are inaccurate to your meaning, and sometimes, even inflammatory to your audience. Be careful! To repeat a well known phrase: ?The pen is mightier than the sword.? Anyone who doubts this, has learned nothing from history. How many wars (great or small) have begun over an unintentional statement.

hstaton888
hstaton888

The instructions for retaining the text that Word perceives as incorrect works well for English but, how do you modify it for other languages, particularly when you operate in more than one language.

PatriciaT
PatriciaT

Users can add their own autocorrect entries to the list of words and/or typos that Word will correct. I use it as an auto text entry tool, much like the signature line can be used in Outlook. For example, if I want to type my entire name, I create an auto text entry of "pjt" (Word isn't going to mistake that for some other word) and have the autotext entry set to "Patricia Tanrioger." Saves time and typing.

noeldi
noeldi

I prefer [Ctrl] + [z] for several reasons: 1st: you do not turn a sometimes useful feature of. you can decide as the case arises whether you want word to correct it or not. 2st: keyboard shortcuts are fast. 3rd: it works also for other cases when word thinks it is smarter than you. automatic formating etc. 4th: you can also UNDO things you typed. 5th: [Ctrl] + [y] is RE-DO.

nospam
nospam

I think that some correction and abbreviation is useful, and don't want to turn if off. If it worked, if there were a list of entries and one could really turn each entry off then it would be fine.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I did this so long ago, that I can't remember exactly where you go to do it, but it's in the tools or options menus. First you load the new dictionary you want, then you set that to default, then you DELETE the standard US ENG dictionary, and leave only the dictionary you want, and the personal dictionary. This causes the system to look at only those two.

No name specified
No name specified

is that we can very easily "read" or see what we had intended to write, sometimes overlooking errors. Proofreading is a habit that I employ all the time, and yet, every so often I re-read something some days later and notice that there are faults which I had not seen the day of writing, even after proofreading. This is something common (remember English 101?), that before one turns in an essay one should let it rest for a couple of days, THEN re-read it once again with fresh eyes and *mind*. The proof of waht I am saiyng is rihgt here bofere your eyes. Who hasn't tried to reconcile a checkbook and fail to see something like 7-5=3? In programming I learned that to debug a program, to find the mistake that keeps it from running correctly we need four eyes--our two plus someone else's two--simply because we can be so *sure* of what we wrote, that we don't re-read as carefully as we should. Now imagine how hard it is to catch a word that, though it is spelled correctly, does not match the meaning of the sentence, specially since Word changed it on me with out telling me so. You did make a good point, though--never send off anything without proofreading. Cheers. P.D. - The bottom line is that if this function is simply more annoying than it is useful for someone, then she/he can now know how to turn it off... else, be happy with it. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving.

Kym Yeoward
Kym Yeoward

Why does Word ignore the Windows Region setting & load US English as the default spell-checker everytime we use it ? Users often don't have time to reset it & hence Auto-Correct produces miss-spellings - e.g. here: - color should be colour - defense s/be defence - 11/25 s/be 25/11 Excel has a similar problem - dates in reports from local programs, sent to Excel, show as US format (mm/dd/yy) for the 1st to the 12th of each month & in the correct (UK) format (dd/mm/yy) for the rest - v. annoying.

DBlayney
DBlayney

When you add words to the AutoCorrect list, they go in with the language code you are currently using. They then apply only if you are using that same language code for typing.

mauidoug
mauidoug

I agree. I also prefer to let AutoCorrect do its thing. I almost never need to override it. It works like a charm. Undo the few things that you don't like.

julieve
julieve

Any non-US users will understand when I say that although you have set regional settings to English (Australian), Word still will not change the default from English (US). It seems you have to change each document.. I have tried everything, Regional settings in Control panel, Set Language in Word itself, changing the normal.dot document and it still defaults to English (US). Same issues when using 3rd party software with Excel, one product in particular will treat half the dates as US format (MDY) and the other half as normal format for the rest of the world (DMY). Has anyone resolved this problem?

AtCollege
AtCollege

Some AutoCorrections are awful. I tell all my users to turn off the following. There are groans from all of them wishing they had known how to turn them off earlier. In Word, go to Tools, AutoCorrect Options... Select the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Uncheck the boxes for the the bottom two groups - Automatic bulleted lists, Automatic numbered lists, Border lines, Tables, Build-in Heading styles From the Apply as you type group, the most important one to turn off is Border lines Under Auytomatically as you type, uncheck all of them, but the most important one to turn off is Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces.