A recent article “This is why it pays to proofread” gives many example of how a slip of the fingers can be funny or insulting.
It doesn’t mention that there are features in Office to help avoid these mistakes.
Just one little letter
It only takes a single letter to turn an innocent remark into something quite different. with explanations in italics.
pubic relations officer
do a stock count – leave out the ‘o’ in the last word
mini Angus burgers – drop the g from the middle word
Shift – drop the f
There’s many more examples where a single letter change or deletion gives another word, which is both questionable, and in the Microsoft Office default dictionary.
The Office default dictionary is partly to blame for some of these mistakes. There are words in the dictionary that you probably don’t want to use in regular documents and emails.
In the haste of modern life, we rely on the red squiggly line to warn us about typing mistakes. Sadly, we can’t rely on the red or blue squiggles to keep us out of trouble.
Microsoft sometimes argues that their context sensitive grammar checking can warn you about words that are out of place. For example:
The English grammar engine knows that ‘pear’ is spelled correctly but doesn’t make sense in the context of the sentence so it adds the blue squiggly.
Sometimes those checks work but you can’t rely on it. Check these examples from Word 2013, we’ve blurred one extreme obscenity.
Only one of the above examples is correctly marked as a potential problem.
Some people might feel that the Microsoft supplied dictionary shouldn’t have rude words. We understand Microsoft’s dilemma and suspect they don’t want to get into the business of censoring the dictionary. The company would never satisfy anyone if they did that.
Customers and especially network administrators have some control over the dictionary via the exclusion option. This is a plain text list of words to exclude from the main and custom dictionaries and therefore ensure that a red squiggly line will always appear.
You could make an exclusion dictionary with rude words or words that are commonly mistyped but rarely used in practice (like pubic or anus).
Office-Watch has a full article on how the exclusion dictionary works.
These Office features can help you, but they aren’t foolproof. There’s no replacement for proof-reading … not yet anyway.