In addition to the standard spell checking tool, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook can also check spelling and grammar as you type, indicating errors using colored, squiggly lines under the text. However, if all the squiggly lines are too distracting, you can turn one or both of these features off.

Say you’re working on a document that contains a lot of industry-specific jargon, abbreviations, or highly-specialized words. Word will mark all these with red, squiggly lines even though they are not technically misspelled. If you’re writing legal documents, Word might question the grammar of some of the really long, complicated sentences generally used when writing “legalese”, and you may not want to see all the green, squiggly lines in your document.

We’ll show you how to disable the automatic spelling and grammar check options in Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook, as well as how to disable the spelling and grammar check only for certain paragraphs, if you don’t want to disable these features for the whole document.

Let’s start with Word and PowerPoint (the process is a bit different for Outlook, so we’ll cover that below). Open an existing file or a new file. Then, click the “File” tab.

On the backstage screen, click “Options” in the list of items on the left.

On the Word Options (or PowerPoint Options) dialog box, click “Proofing” in the list of items on the left.

To disable the automatic spell check, click the “Check spelling as you type” check box. Click the “Mark grammar errors as you type” check box in Word (or the “Hide spelling and grammar errors” check box in PowerPoint) to disable the automatic grammar check. When the options are disabled, the check boxes are empty. Click “OK” to accept the changes and close the Options dialog box.

In Outlook, click the “File” tab from either the main Outlook window or from a message window and click “Options” in the list of items on the resulting screen. The “Outlook Options” dialog box displays. If you opened this dialog box from a message window, the Mail screen will be active. Otherwise, click “Mail” in the list of items on the left to activate the Mail screen.

In the Compose messages section, click “Editor Options”.

On the Editor Options dialog box, click the “Check spelling as you type” check box and the “Mark grammar errors as you type” check box to disable the spelling check and the grammar check, respectively. Click “OK” to accept the changes and close the Editor Options dialog box.

You are returned to the Outlook Options dialog box. Click “OK” to close it.

Now, the errors in your document, presentation, or email message are not called out with the squiggly lines. However, the errors are still there. To find them, you need to manually run the spell and grammar check by pressing “F7”.

If you only want to turn off the spelling check and grammar check for certain paragraphs, not the whole document, presentation, or email message, you can do this in Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook (the process is the similar in all three programs). This may be useful if only part of your document has a lot of jargon, abbreviations, or highly-specialized words, and you want the rest of the document checked automatically.

NOTE: In Outlook, make sure a message window is open.

First, select the text you don’t want checked for spelling and grammar. Use the “Ctrl” key to select multiple non-contiguous paragraphs. Then, click the “Review” tab.

In the Language section, click the “Language” button and select “Set Proofing Language” from the drop-down menu.

On the Language dialog box, select the “Do not check spelling or grammar” check box so there is a check mark in the box. Click “OK”.

Notice that the selected paragraph in the image below still contains errors, but they are not underlined. However, the errors in the second paragraph are.

Word also checks for formatting inconsistencies and marks those with blue, squiggly underlines. You can turn this feature off as well. However, the automatic spelling, grammar, and formatting checking tools can make it easier to make sure your writing is at least mostly free of errors.

Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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