4. Checking Language Consistency

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Word’s standard proofing tools can’t check for inconsistent use of spelling and language and grammar across an entire document. This tool points out these inaccuracies which can look sloppy in professional or academic documents


Lesson Goal

Learn how to use Consistency Checker to remove inconsistent language.

What does the Consistency Checker add-in do?

Word’s proofing tools can catch a lot of errors, but they don’t look for inconsistency of language across the whole document.

For example, if we type first and 1st interchangeably throughout your document, Word won’t pick it up because both are correct. However, inconsistent use of these two can be sloppy and can even create confusion.

Consistency checker will check the entire document searching for inconsistent language. In the above case, it will point out that you used different numbering conventions.

Unlike Word’s proofing tools, it replaces the text for you. It will only point it out, but you have to replace it manually.

How to use Consistency Checker

To open the Consistency Checker pane, navigate to the Insert tab, click My Add-ins, and double-click Consistency Checker.

To get started, click scan at the bottom of the pane. After the scan, we’ll see the first result, Hyphenation of Words. This will look out for inconsistent use of hyphenation for words such as email/e-mail. If there are no inconsistencies the pane will say Test Passed.

In the next section, we can see the results for Spelling Variations. This will check for inconsistent spelling variations for words such as program/programme.

Next is Numbers in Sentences. This will check for different numbering conventions such as 1st and first.

Following this is Compound Words such as mid-size and mid-size.

Finally, the add-in will check for Abbreviations in Two Forms such as Nato and NATO


In the previous lesson, we learned how to install third-party add-ins. In this lesson, we'll learn how to use the Consistency Checker to improve the quality of our writing. We can see that in this short document, Word hasn't highlighted any spelling or grammar errors.

However, you may notice that there are some issues with consistent language.

For example, the term RDA is used twice with different capitalization conventions. There's also an inconsistent use of hyphenation, as well as mixed use of digital and spelled-out numbers.

Keeping the language consistent in a short document like this isn't too hard, but it can become a very tedious task in longer documents.

We can quickly resolve these issues using the Consistency Checker add-in.

We'll navigate to the insert tab and click my add-ins.

We'll double click the Consistency Checker to open a pane to the right of the document.

We can see a quick summary of the type of inconsistencies that the add-in checks.

We'll click scan at the bottom to begin.

The first issue in the document is the inconsistent hyphenating of phrases.

As we can see, Fresh Snacks has been spelled as both two separate words and with a hyphen between the words. The correct form is without the hyphen.

Note that unlike Word spell checking tools, Consistency Checker cannot make these changes for us.

We'll need to handle them manually.

In this case, we'll replace the hyphen with a space.

Following this, we can see that the document has passed the spelling and consistencies check.

These inconsistencies normally arise from different spelling conventions, such as spelling color with and without a u.

These issues are often spotted by Word, so this section usually passes.

Next, we can see inconsistent use of numbers.

In one case we use digits, but in another case we spell the number out.

Note that below we can see that digits should be used in lists, for measures, in ranges, and so on.

These options don't describe either of our cases, so we'll spell out the number that's currently displayed as a digit.

Moving on, we have a list of contractions in the document.

While this is an external business document, it's also a letter from one person to another, so contractions are acceptable.

We'll leave these and move on to the next step.

Here, we see that the document passed the compound words test.

Compound words are words that are made up of two other words. Common examples are football or grandmother. The fact that our document has passed this test is not surprising, because most of these will be caught by the first two tests.

Finally, we have inconsistent abbreviations.

This has highlighted two different conventions for the term RDA.

We'll opt for the fully-capitalized version.

With that, our lesson is complete. In the next lesson, we'll learn how to use Pexels, an add-in which provides users with free stock images.

Macros, Add-ins, and Mail Merge


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