Avoid embarrassing typing mistakes in Word

A slip of the typing fingers can be funny, insulting or embarrassing, turning an innocent word into a naughty one. There are features in Word to help avoid these mistakes which have improved over the years but they aren’t 100% reliable

It only takes a single letter to turn an innocent remark into something quite different.  with explanations in italics.

kind retards

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 Word default dictionary.

The Word 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 or blue squiggly lines to warn us about typing mistakes.  Sadly, we can’t rely on the red or blue squiggles to keep us out of trouble.

Context warnings

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.  Happily, Word has improved the slang and profanity checks over the years.

Word 2013

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.

Word 365

Modern Word has an expanded “Grammar and refinements” option (Options | Proofing | Writing Style | Settings) which includes a Vocabulary | Profanity option.

Elsewhere on the same long list are options to check for ‘Slang’ and ‘Ethnic Slurs’.

Using those settings, more of the words are marked, again we’ve blurred the extreme profanity.

Word’s contextual grammar check detects the wrong word on the second line “Possible Word Choice Error” and suggests the correct alternative.

The two words with blue dotted underlines are tagged as “The language may be offensive to your reader”.

But the Word check’s aren’t perfect, for example the word ‘anus’ next to ‘burger’ might be expected to get a warning.

Exclusion Dictionary

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.

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How Word’s grammar check can let you down

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