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Using the Spell Check Feature in Microsoft Word

Do Spell Checkers really work?
The first thing that you need to know about Spell Checkers is that they are not 100% accurate. They can mark correct words as wrong while some incorrect words may slip through. In spite of that, Spell Checkers can help you find and solve many errors in your papers, but be aware that it is you who must ultimately decide. Not the computer.

Why do Spell Checkers mark correct words wrong?
Spell Checkers work with dictionaries. If a particular word is not in the program’s dictionary, it will be marked wrong, even if you spelled it correctly.

Why don’t Spell Checkers mark some incorrect words?
In most languages there are words that look alike or sound alike, but they mean different things. While human spellers often make mistakes with those words, automated spellers will always be fooled when one of those words is used instead of the other one. For example, if you write “This is they’re home”, instead of “This is their home”, the Spell Checker will not mark “they’re” as incorrect, because that word exists in its dictionary. The same thing happens in Spanish with many words. For example, if you write “esta” instead of “está”, the computer will be unable to recognize this as an error, because the word “esta” exists in its dictionary. This happens also with many past-tense forms that require an accent: if you write “atrapo” instead of “atrapó”, the computer will be fooled. So, remember, you are responsible to make the final decisions.

Do Spell Checkers correct my spelling?
No, they don’t. They simply mark the words that the computer “thinks” are wrong. The Spell Checker in Word will underline “incorrect” words with a red wavy line. Then you have to decide if they are really incorrect.

However, the Spell Checker can help you correct the error. Just put the cursor on the incorrect word, right-click on it and, if available, a list of possibilities is offered for you to choose from.

Why are most words in my paper underlined?
Most likely, it is because the computer is using a dictionary in a different language –unless, of course, you are misspelling every word! If you would like to take advantage of the Spell Check facility in Word, you first have to indicate the language in which your text is written. Although some versions of Word can automatically detect the language, this feature is not always accurate.

If you have not started to type, select from the menu:

On the dialog that pops-up, select the language you are going to use. For Spanish, we recommend using Spanish Modern Sort, or International, depending on availability.

Make sure that you check the box next to “Detect Language automatically”. Then click OK.

If, on the other hand, you have already typed your text, you must select the text you want to spell check, and then set the language as indicated above.

Why does my Spell Checker not check my spelling while I am typing?
In order for the Spell Checker to check your spelling while you are typing, it must be instructed to do so.

Go to the Tools menu, open the whole menu by clicking on the down-pointing arrows at the bottom of the popup. Then do as follows:

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