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When Spell Check Doesn't Work in Microsoft Word

Posted by Roger Hyttinen on

Every now and then, I'm working on a document and notice a typo that Word hasn't flagged. What's more, if I run a spell check on the document, Word tells me that the document is error-free. Now I'm talking about a blatant spelling error like: goiing. I've verified that the Word's spell check works fine in other documents - just not in the particular document that I'm working on. This has happened to me quite a few times until I finally figured out the solution: the culprit was the Proofing Language Preferences. If this happens to you, follow the instructions below and see if it helps.

If Spell Check Doesn't Work in a Document

  1. Press Ctrl + A to select all the text in the document.
  2. Click the Review tab on the Ribbon.
  3. Click the Language icon on the Ribbon.

    Language button menu

  4. Click Set Proofing Language to display the Language dialog box.
  5. Uncheck the Do not check spelling or grammar check box.

    Ensure that the Do not check spelling or grammar box is unchecked

  6. Click OK.

If this doesn't work, verify your Proofing Exceptions option to ensure that the Hide Spelling Errors in this document only box isn't checked.

To Turn Off Proofing Exceptions

  1. Click the File tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Click Options in the left pane.
  3. Click Proofing in the left pane.
  4. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page until you see the Exceptions for: area.
  5. Ensure that the Hide spelling errors in this document only is not checked.

    Hide Spelling Errors Option

  6. Click OK

Hopefully, one of these two solutions will help fix your spell-checking woes.


Looking for more Word tips? Our Word 2016: Up To Speed guide is now available in printable PDF format from this site. The Up To Speed series is designed to help you get productive quickly with your software. Check back as new titles will be added regularly. Also available as an ebook from AmazoniTunes Books and Kobo.


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