Spell check is an essential tool in Microsoft Word that helps catch typos, grammar mistakes, and misspellings as you type. However, sometimes Word’s built-in spell checker stops working or acts erratically. When this happens, it can slow down your workflow and allow more errors into your documents.
Fortunately, there are several easy ways to troubleshoot and fix spell check problems in Word. In this article, we’ll cover the most common Microsoft Word spell check issues and provide step-by-step instructions to get your spell checker working properly again.
Check Your Language and Spell Check Settings
One of the most common reasons the spell checker stops working correctly is an issue with language settings. Here’s how to check them:
Step 1: Select All Text
Press CTRL+A on your keyboard to select all text in the document. This will allow you to change check language and spell check settings for the entire document at once.
Step 2: Review Language Settings
On the Review tab, click the Language button and select Set Proofing Language. Verify the correct language is set for the document.
Step 3: Check Spell Check Options
Still in the Language dialog box, open the Settings menu. Make sure all checkboxes are cleared under Do not check spelling or grammar.
Step 4: Recheck Document
With all text still selected, click the Spelling & Grammar button on the Review tab. This will force Word to check the document and catch errors.
Disable Conflicting Add-ins
Sometimes add-ins can interfere with the default spell check functionality. To rule out this issue:
Step 1: Open Word in Safe Mode
Hold down the CTRL key while you open Word. This will temporarily disable other add-ins.
Step 2: Test Spell Check
In safe mode, test if spell check is now working properly. If so, you’ll need to identify the problematic add-in and disable it.
Step 3: Disable Add-ins
Go to File > Options > Add-Ins. Disable non-Microsoft add-ins one-by-one until you isolate the one causing issues.
Check for Document Exceptions
Word allows you to exclude certain documents from spell check. Here’s how to check for this:
Step 1: Go to Word Options
Select File > Options, then click Proofing on the left.
Step 2: Clear Exceptions Checkboxes
In the Exceptions for section, uncheck any boxes next to “Hide spelling errors” or “Hide grammar errors” for the current document.
Reset Grammar and Spell Check Tools
Resetting the grammar and spell check tools will reinstall them with default settings:
Step 1: Close Microsoft Word
Make sure all Word applications are fully closed before proceeding.
Step 2: Delete Proofing Tools Folder
Open File Explorer and navigate to C:\Users[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Proofing Tools. Delete the entire “Proofing Tools” folder.
Step 3: Restart Word
The spell and grammar check tools will automatically reinstall next time you open Word.
Check Default Template for Corruption
Sometimes corruption in the default Word template (normal.dotm) can cause spell check issues. Here’s how to reset it:
Step 1: Rename Template
Close Word and open File Explorer. Navigate to C:\Users[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates. Rename “normal.dotm” to “normal_old.dotm”.
Step 2: Create New Template
Open a blank Word document. The application will generate a fresh default template.
Step 3: Test Spell Check
Open another document and verify if the spell checker is now working properly. If so, the old template was corrupted.
Run Microsoft Word Troubleshooter
Microsoft provides an automated troubleshooting tool for Word issues like spell check problems:
Step 1: Open Troubleshooter
Go to the Start menu and search for “troubleshoot”. Open the Troubleshooting control panel.
Step 2: Run Word Troubleshooter
Select View All on the left pane. Then run the troubleshooter for Microsoft Word under the Office section.
Step 3: Restart and Test
Follow the on-screen directions. Restart Word when complete and test if spell check problems are resolved.
Repair Office Installation
If none of the above fixes resolve your spell check issues, try repairing your Office installation:
Step 1: Close Word
Make sure any open Word applications are fully closed.
Step 2: Open Control Panel
Go to the Start menu and search for “control panel”. Open the Control Panel.
Step 3: Select Uninstall Programs
Click on Uninstall a Program under the Programs section.
Step 4: Locate Office
Find Microsoft Office on the list and right-click it. Select Change.
Step 5: Run Repair
The Office installation wizard will open. Click Repair and follow the on-screen directions to complete the process.
This will replace any missing or corrupted Word files related to spell check functionality.
With one or more of these troubleshooting tips, you should be able to get Microsoft Word’s spell checker working again. Problems with the spell check feature can definitely be frustrating, but are usually easily resolved.
If you try all steps in this article and still have issues, you may need to contact Microsoft Support for further assistance. There may be a deeper problem with Office installation or Windows configuration at that point.