3. Making Corrections with Proofing Tools

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Learn how Word highlights spelling and grammar errors. Use proofing tools to quickly make corrections to a document.


Lesson Goal

Learn how to identify and fix proofing errors

How does Word show errors?

Word distinguishes three types of errors: spelling errors, grammar errors, and clarity errors. Spelling errors are underlined with a wavy red line. Grammar errors have a blue double underline. Clarity erros such as redundant words have a dotted brown line.

Making corrections in the document

If we right-click any word with an error underline, we can have a quick look at Word’s suggestions. We’ll usually be able to see a few different alternatives. Clicking on one will replace the error with the suggestion. Clicking the arrow next to the suggestion and then clicking Change All, all instances of this error will be replaced with that suggestion.

Note that Word doesn’t always provide the correct suggestion. In these cases, it’s necessary to make the change yourself.

Making corrections in the Editor pane

We can quickly review all mistakes in the document without having to scroll through each page. To do this, go to the Review tab and click the Check Document command. This will open the Editor pane. It will provide a short summary of all the errors in the document, broken down by error type.

We can cycle through these errors and make corrections without navigating through the document.


In the previous lesson, we learned how to use the Navigation Pane to quickly replace text throughout the document. In this lesson, we'll learn how to identify and fix proofing errors.

You may have noticed that some of the words in our research document were underlined with different colors. These represent areas in your document where Word has spotted an error. There are three categories of errors.

A wavy red underline signifies a spelling error.

A double blue underline signifies a grammatical error.

A dotted brown underline signifies a clarity error, such as, redundant words.

If we navigate to the first page after the table of contents, we can see a few examples of these errors.

We'll investigate the error by right-clicking the misspelled word.

Word immediately shows us what it predicts to be the intended word.

It's safe to say that in this case, the author intended to write the word process with another S. We simply need to click on the suggestion to make the correction. But let's click the arrow next to this suggestion instead.

Here, we have the option to correct all of the incidences of this error.

We can see that the author made the same mistake shortly afterward, so we'll click this to correct the error anywhere it appears in the document.

Next, we have a misspelling of the word nutrition.

We'll right-click it, and choose the correct spelling of nutrition from the list of options.

We'll move onto the next error, a dotted brown underline.

If we right-click these words, we can see that Word suggests we use more concise language, and remove the word definitely.

This is not strictly incorrect. So, we can choose to ignore it.

In this case, the sentence benefits from removing the redundant word. So, we'll accept the suggestion.

Next, we can see some words with a double blue underline.

By right-clicking, we can see that Word is suggesting we place dashes or hyphens between these words.

This is debatable, but we'll opt to follow Word's advice.

When we right-click on the next grammatical error, we can see that Word's advice is more objectively correct.

This word uses the wrong conjugation.

In other words, there should be no S at the end.

This functionality is useful when correcting a few errors in a small document, or for making corrections as we type.

However, there is a better way of quickly proofing multiple errors.

To use this method, we'll click on the Review tab.

And click the Check Document command.

This opens the Editor pane to the right.

This gives us a quick overview of errors in the document.

We can see that this document still has a few spelling and grammatical errors.

We'll click Spelling to have a closer look at the errors.

This highlights the first error in the document, which appears to be a variant spelling.

It looks like the author was writing in British English. But this document is set to American English.

We'll use this view to cycle through these errors, and use the suggested corrections.

However, in doing so, we see that one of Word's suggestions looks off.

It suggests we remove the hyphen from the word byproduct. But it didn't noticed that word is misspelled.

It should be byproduct with a Y, not an I.

We'll have to make the correction ourselves.

Finally, if we select all text, and click English United States at the bottom, we can see a list of other languages and dialects to check for.

Note that only options with A, B, C, and a check icon have proofing tools currently installed.

Now that we've proofed our document, we'll stop the lesson here. Familiarity with Word's proofing tools and understanding their shortcomings is an essential skill for anyone using Word.

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