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Remember back in elementary school when you memorized lists of words and studied hard to become the top speller in your class? Thanks to spellchecking technology from word processing applications like Microsoft Word, memorizing spelling words is about as worthless as cursive handwriting. Here’s how you can use Word’s spellchecker more efficiently.If you’ve used Microsoft Word for even a little bit, then you’re familiar with the red, green, and blue squiggly lines that show up as you type. These lines are meant to assist you, but for many writers cranking out a document, the colored lines can actually be a time-consuming distraction, and end up being as helpful as Clippy, Microsoft Word’s retired digital paperclip assistant.

Some users can handle the squiggly line in real time just fine, but for many, every time a line shows up it makes them stop what they’re doing and focus all of their attention on making the suggested correction. A person that has a trace of OCD may end up spending more time correcting the grammar and spelling than actually writing.

From a writing perspective, this is a horrible way to write. Good writing is about coming up with thoughts and ideas that have a flow and logic to them. If you get distracted from this flow with every sentence because you’re preoccupied with corrections, then the quality of your work is going to suffer, albeit your grammar will be outstanding. However, what good is perfect grammar if your tidy sentences are disjointed?

There’s an easy adjustment you can make in Word that will get rid of the squiggly distractions. All you have to do is go to Review > Spelling & Grammar and a Spelling and Grammar window will appear. From here, select Options. You will now see the Word Options menu with the Proofing tab selected. This is where you can make adjustments to all of your proofing settings. Microsoft allows you to get specific and customize the proofing settings to the liking of even the most fussy english teacher, but for now, we’re just going to be focusing on getting rid of the colored squiggly lines.

To do this, go to the bottom of the Word Options menu and select the two boxes for Hide spelling errors and Hide grammar errors. If you want this to be the standard setting for Microsoft Word, then select the drop down menu above to make the header say Exceptions for: All New Documents. Click OK when you’re done. Now, your document will be rid of all colored and curvy lines and you’ll be free to do stream-of-conscious writing without any squigglies slowing you down.

Once you’ve completed your writing, you can go back to the Word Options Proofing menu and deselect Hide spelling/grammar errors, and click OK. This will let you see all of the errors in your document which will allow you to take care of Word’s suggestions from within the Document by simply right clicking the squiggly lines and making the appropriate changes in the popup.

Or, if you have a disdain for squiggly lines entirely, then you can go to Review > Spelling & Grammar and take care of each recommended change one-by-one in a Spelling and Grammar menu. Whichever method you prefer, you definitely don’t want to forget this crucial step of checking your work for spelling and grammar errors.

This is just one of the many ways that Microsoft Word can be used to improve your writing skills. To improve other areas of your organization with Microsoft Office 365 or any other business productivity applications, give Setton Consulting a call at 212-796-6061.