Skipping text in Word while spell checking a document

Don't let technical terms and jargon slow down spell checking tasks! Check one simple setting and skip all those specialized terms!

I use Word's Spelling & Grammar feature nearly every day. When the document is full of normal text, the process is quick and painless. On the other hand, when a document contains code (and they often do) Word stops at every unrecognized term. It's slow and annoying. Any Word user can run into the same situation. All you need is a set of specialized terms—medical, scientific, mathematical, and so on.

Now, there are a couple of not-so-great workarounds. You can add all those terms to the dictionary. It'll take time, but eventually you'll get most of them. You can also purchase custom dictionaries with specialized terminology. If a custom dictionary isn't the answer, you can click Ignore All for a single term or phrase or move the cursor beyond a larger section of specialized terms (such as code) and click Resume. Either way, you must repeat the action several times and it slows you down. The good news is that Word will skip these specialized terms, with a little preparation before you spell check the document. That preparation comes in the form of styles. To the terms and blocks of text you want skipped, you must apply a style other than the one(s) used throughout the rest of the document that you don't want skipped. If your users have to wade through technical terms, they'll find this skipping option helpful. Here's how to set things up:

  1. Apply a style to the terms you want skipped. You can use an existing style or create a custom style but the style you apply to the terms you want skipped must be different from the other styles used throughout the document.
  2. Click the Home tab and click the Styles group's dialog launcher. In Word 2003, choose Styles and Formatting from the Format menu.
  3. In the Styles task pane, select the style you want skipped.
  4. From the style's dropdown menu, choose Modify.
  5. In the resulting dialog box, choose Language from the Format dropdown.
  6. Check the Do Not Check Spelling Or Grammar option.
  7. Click OK twice and close the Styles task pane.

When you run Spelling & Grammar, Word will skip any text with the specified style. It's a great way to skip single words or even entire pages or sections.

Most users won't find this setting on their own because it's hidden away in styles. Thanks to Tiffany Taylor at Manning Publications for reminding me of this useful setting!


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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