9 Best Fixes for Spell Check Is Not Working in Microsoft Word


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word

The reasons may include a change in settings to an error causing the spell check to fail to do its job. As part of the Office suite, the Word application is part of Office 2019, Office 2016, Office 2013, and a cloud version called Microsoft 365. The troubleshooting steps shared below will work for all versions because the spell checker feature works consistently across Word Versions. If not, we’ll let you know.

Let’s get started.

1. Try the Microsoft WordWeb application

Have you signed up for a Microsoft 365 plan? If so, you can open the same Word document in the web application and check if the Word spell checker is working there.

Free OneDrive users can also access Word’s web app. There are a few differences between Word Web App and the desktop app. This will help you spell check the document quickly for errors. A quick fix until you understand the problem.

2. Enable Check spelling as you type

The “Check spelling as you type” setting must be checked or enabled for Word to spell check the document in real time and display the familiar zigzag red line below the misspelled word.

Step 1: Click on the File tab.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 1


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 1

2nd step: Select Options from the right sidebar near the bottom of the menu.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 2


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 2

Step 3: On the Checking tab, make sure “Check spelling as you type” is checked.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 3


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 3

Step 4: If you are wondering why Word is not spell checking uppercase words, it’s because there is a separate option called “Ignore uppercase words.”

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 14


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 14

3. Delete the verification exceptions document

The document you are editing may have been added to the exceptions list, which is why Word does not correct it for spelling errors.

Go back to File> Options> Proofing and down to the bottom, make sure that the option “Hide misspellings in this document only” is not checked.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 4


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 4

Note that the option “Hide misspellings in this document only” will be enabled and grayed out if “Check spelling as you type” is disabled. That means you can’t turn it off either. Follow the steps in the previous point to activate it before you can deactivate it.

4. Add a verification language

Even if you are writing or editing a document in English, Word must have selected the correct proofing language. Sometimes the verification language is accidentally set to a foreign language.

Step 1: Open File> Options> Language and check if your preferred verification language is installed. Otherwise, click Add Language and select the desired verification language to install it.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 5


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 5

2nd step: Select the verification language from the pop-up menu and click Add.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 6


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 6

5. Custom dictionary

Sometimes the Word application may have trouble identifying what you typed. For example, when you use slang or a short form, the app will not detect the spelling accurately. In such cases, you can add the word you typed to Word’s built-in dictionary.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 18


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 18

Right click on the word and select the Add to Dictionary option under Spelling in the context menu.

6. Update the document style

Microsoft Word allows users to create and set styles, a collection of formatting options including a spell checker that you can set for the entire document. This is separate from the universal options we saw in the steps above.

Step 1: On the Home tab, right-click on the chosen style and select Edit from the context menu.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 15


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 15

2nd step: Click Format in the lower left corner of the screen and select Language.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 16


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 16

Step 3: Make sure that the option “Do not check spelling or grammar” is not checked.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 17


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 17

7. Disable Word add-ins

One of the installed add-ins may be malfunctioning or cause a conflict. There are two ways to solve this problem. Disable all add-ins, then re-enable them one at a time to find the one that is causing the conflict. Or, you can open Word in Safe Mode.

To manage add-ins:

Step 1: Open File> Options> Add-ins, and at the bottom of the screen, select COM Add-ins from the drop-down menu next to Manage and click OK.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 7


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 7

2nd step: Simply uncheck the add-in in the pop-up window that follows to disable it. Click the Remove button to uninstall the selected add-in, but this is not necessary for troubleshooting spell check not working in Word problem.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 8


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 8

If that doesn’t solve the problem, you should try opening Word in safe mode. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Press Windows key + R to open the Run prompt, type winword / safe and press Enter.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 9


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 9

2nd step: If the spell checker works as expected in Safe Mode in Word, you need to troubleshoot the Word or Office application.

8. Repair the Office application

Step 1: Right click on the Windows Start button and select Apps & Features.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 10


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 10

2nd step: Find the version of Microsoft Office you have installed and click the Change button.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 11


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 11

Step 3: In the pop-up window that follows, there are two options. First, try the quick fix, then if that doesn’t work, try the online fix.

Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 12


Fixes for spell checking do not work in Microsoft Word 12

9. Use the grammatical extension

Here is the difference. Grammarly is a browser extension tool that will highlight and suggest misspellings and allow you to quickly correct them with just one click. They also have an add-in for the Word and Outlook desktop applications.

Interestingly, Grammarly works with Google Docs and Word.

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Last updated on June 7, 2021

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