You can use the Word grammar checker to help polish your writing. The grammar checker will indicate possible errors or weaknesses in grammar, such as a disagreement between subject and verb or the use of passive voice. It will also flag expressions that exhibit poor writing style, such as clichés or misused words. You can have Word automatically check your grammar as you type, or you can manually run the full-featured grammar checker (along with the spelling checker) to check text that you've already entered. When you run the grammar checker manually, you can have it display statistics on the general readability of your document after it has completed its check.
To have Word check your grammar as you type, choose Options from the Tools menu, click the Spelling & Grammar tab (see Figure 10-2), and select the Check Grammar As You Type option. Word will then check the grammar of any text that has already been entered into your document, and it will begin checking the grammar of each new sentence you enter, immediately after you finish typing it. If the grammar checker encounters a sentence that violates one of its current grammar or style rules (later you'll see how to modify these rules), it marks the offending portions of the sentence with a wavy green underline. (Recall that Word marks a misspelled word with a wavy red underline.) You can then ignore the mark, correct the sentence manually, or right-click the underlined portion to display the following pop-up menu:
On the pop-up menu, choose one of the following options:
If the check-grammar-as-you-type (or check-spelling-as-you-type) feature has marked one or more errors in your document, you can locate (and correct) them by double-clicking the Spelling And Grammar Status icon on the Word status bar.
Each time you double-click this icon, Word moves the insertion point to the next flagged error and displays the pop-up menu shown above so that you can correct the grammar.
If you select Hide Grammatical Errors In This Document on the Spelling & Grammar tab of the Options dialog box (see Figure 10-2), Word will remove the wavy lines from all grammar errors in the active document. It will, however, continue to check grammar and remember the location of the errors, and you can later restore the wavy lines by turning off this option.
You might prefer to use Word's full-featured grammar checker to examine the grammar of a block of text—or an entire document—after you have typed it, rather than having to deal with possible grammatical errors while you write. In this case, you can turn off the check-grammar-as-you-type feature, hide the grammatical errors, or just ignore the wavy underlines. Then when you're ready to check your grammar, you can manually run the grammar checker.
If the grammar checker isn't currently enabled, enable it by choosing Options from the Tools menu, clicking the Spelling & Grammar tab, and selecting Check Grammar With Spelling. If you want to see the readability statistics, also select the Show Readability Statistics option.
Once it has been enabled, the grammar checker will be run whenever you perform a manual spelling check, as described previously (in "Running the Spelling Checker Manually"). The specific steps for checking your grammar are as follows:
Figure 10-4. The Spelling And Grammar dialog box.
To deal with the possible error, you should do one or more of the following:
Edit While You Display the Spelling And Grammar Dialog Box
You can edit your document while the Spelling And Grammar dialog box remains displayed. To edit, click in the document. To resume the grammar check, click the Resume button in the Spelling And Grammar dialog box.
If the Show Readability Statistics option is enabled on the Spelling & Grammar tab, Word will display the Readability Statistics dialog box after it has finished the spelling and grammar check. This dialog box shows statistics about the text that was checked, including several standard indicators of the general readability of the text. Figure 10-5 shows the statistics that Word displayed for the original draft of the chapter you're reading.
Figure 10-5. The Readability Statistics dialog box displayed after running a spelling and grammar check on the preliminary draft of this chapter.
You can display statistics about the number of pages, words, characters, and so on in your document by choosing Word Count from the Tools menu, or by choosing Properties from the File menu and clicking the Statistics tab.
You can modify the way the grammar checker works by choosing Options from the Tools menu and clicking the Spelling & Grammar tab in the Options dialog box, which was shown in Figure 10-2. You can also display this tab by clicking the Options button in the Spelling And Grammar dialog box.
You can select an option in the Writing Style list to specify the general type of writing you want to check—Casual, Standard, Formal, Technical, or Custom. When Word checks your grammar, it will apply a set of rules that is appropriate for the selected type of writing. To have Word apply a general-purpose set of rules, select Standard in the Writing Style list. To apply most of the grammar and style rules, choose Formal; or to omit many of the rules, select Casual. You can select Technical to apply only the rules that are appropriate for technical writing (such as this chapter); for example, with this option the grammar checker doesn't flag passive voice. The Custom option initially applies almost all the rules; it's provided for you to customize.
You can customize any of the writing style options (not just Custom) to specify exactly which rules the grammar checker will apply when that option is selected. To do this, click the Settings button on the Spelling & Grammar tab to open the Grammar Settings dialog box. (See Figure 10-6.)
Figure 10-6. The Grammar Settings dialog box.