Making Word compatible with George R. R. Martin


How to change Word so it’s more to the Game of Thrones author’s liking.

George R. R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones series among other wonderful books* has revealed that he uses an old DOS program (WordStar 4) on a standalone computer to write. That’s great for him but the rest of us don’t have his unique position. Here he is explaining his computer habits:

Some people hate the Office ribbon but I’m not sure we’d like to go back to WordStar looking like this:

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/GRR%20Word%201.png image from Making Word compatible with George R. R. Martin at Office-Watch.com

A computer with no internet and DOS means you’re utterly focused on a single task without the temptation to switch to a browser or game.

Among Mr Martin’s other complaints about modern word-processors are Automatic capitalization and Inline spell checking, both of which can be disabled in Microsoft Word. It gives us an excuse to talk about turning off those and similar features in Word, plus a special ‘Game of Thrones’ dictionary just for Word:


Automatic capitalization

There’s five different capitalization options in Word at Options | Proofing | AutoCorrect Options | AutoCorrect

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/GRR%20Word%202.png image from Making Word compatible with George R. R. Martin at Office-Watch.com

Correct TWo INitial CApitals – is handy when you hold down the Caps Lock key just a little too long

Capitalize first letter of sentences – apparently one that particularly annoys George Martin.

Capitalize first letter of table cells – depending on what you put in tables, this option can be a godsend or a gift from Satan.

Capitalize names of days – makes sense for most people.

Correct accidental usage of cAPS lOCK key – another godsend for many people who type away only to see a line or more of SHOUTING.

Just UNcheck the options you don’t like.


Inline spell checking

If I had to type names like these all day long I’d like both spell checking and a custom dictionary!

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/GRR%20Word%203.png image from Making Word compatible with George R. R. Martin at Office-Watch.com

Turning off inline spell checking is easy. Go to Tools | Options | Proofing and UNcheck the option ‘Check Spelling as you type’.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/GRR%20Word%204.png image from Making Word compatible with George R. R. Martin at Office-Watch.com

Turning off that option doesn’t stop you using spell checking another way. Either turn ‘Check spelling as you type’ back on or press F7 (Review | Spelling and Grammar) to check the document and display problems in a pane.

Yet another option is to mark paragraphs or entire documents as ‘No Proofing’. That’s means that the inline spell checking will skip over those sections. Select the text not to spell-check then go to Review | Language | Set Proofing Language and choose ‘Do not check spelling or grammar’.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/GRR%20Word%205.png image from Making Word compatible with George R. R. Martin at Office-Watch.com

There are yet more options like excluding an entire document from spell checking.


Custom Dictionary

Even better, right click on words with the red squiggly line, choose Add to Dictionary and the words won’t show up as wrong ever again.

Sadly, Microsoft’s hasn’t done a lot of work on custom dictionaries for some years. It’s an issue Office-Watch.com has mentioned before.

When you choose ‘Add to Dictionary’ the word is added to the custom.dic file (Options | Proofing | Custom Dictionaries to see details).

“Game of Thrones” is one example where a specialist dictionary would be better than the default custom.dic – in fact we’ve made a Westeros.dic as an example.

A specialist dictionary can be included in the spell checking of some documents but excluded for others.

One example might be product names in a large company. All those names can be loaded into a single .dic file that can be shared around the company to ensure products are correctly identified.

* As an old SF readers, we’ve enjoyed George R. R. Martin’s work for many decades. Right back to his story in Analog magazine 1974 A Song for Lya and the wry Tuf Voyaging.  If typing on a black and white DOS screen with an ‘ancient’ text editor produces fine prose like that, then he’s more than welcome to continue doing so.


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