Any word processor worth its salt comes with a built-in spell checker that helps copywriters write and proofread their content with minimal effort. Microsoft Word also incorporates a spell checker among other advanced writing and editing tools. Some users have a problem with Microsoft Word’s spell checker, which stops working on their computer.
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.
2nd step: Select Options from the right sidebar near the bottom of the menu.
Step 3: On the Checking tab, make sure “Check spelling as you type” is checked.
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.”
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.
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.
2nd step: Select the verification language from the pop-up menu and click Add.
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.
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.
2nd step: Click Format in the lower left corner of the screen and select Language.
Step 3: Make sure that the option “Do not check spelling or grammar” is not checked.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2nd step: Find the version of Microsoft Office you have installed and click the Change button.
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.
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.
Also on Guiding Tech
Speech in the street
Microsoft Word is still ahead of the pack, but has faced serious competition from Google Docs for the past few years. While Google Docs is a great option, it’s too simplistic for advanced users who need more from their word processors or the Microsoft Office ecosystem.
Who says you need a desktop app to edit your Word documents? Maximize the full potential of Microsoft Word Online with these cool tips and tricks.
Last updated on June 7, 2021
The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.