Section 4.3. Spell Check

4.3. Spell Check

A spell checker in Excel? Is that supposed to be for people who can't spell 138 correctly? The fact is that more and more people are cramming textcolumn headers, boxes of commentary , lists of favorite cereal combinationsinto their spreadsheets. And Excel's designers have graciously responded by providing the very same spell checker that you've probably used with Microsoft Word. As you might expect, Excel's spell checker examines only text as it sniffs its way through a spreadsheet.

Note: The same spell checker works in almost every Office application, including Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

To start the spell checker, follow these simple steps:

  1. Move to where you want to start the spell check .

    If you want to check the entire worksheet from start to finish, move to the first cell . Otherwise , move to the location where you want to start checking. Or, if you want to check a portion of the worksheet, select the cells you want to check.

    Unlike the "Find and Replace" feature, Excel's spell check can check only one worksheet at a time.

  2. Choose Review Proofing Spelling, or press F7 .

    The Excel spell checker starts working immediately, starting with the current cell and moving to the right, going from column to column. After it finishes the last column of the current row, checking continues with the first column of the next row.

    If you don't start at the first cell (A1) in your worksheet, Excel asks you when it reaches the end of the worksheet whether it should continue checking from the beginning of the sheet. If you say yes, it checks the remaining cells and stops when it reaches your starting point (having made a complete pass through all of your cells).

When the spell check finishes, a dialog box informs you that all cells have been checked. If your cells pass the spell check, this dialog box is the only feedback you receive. On the other hand, if Excel discovers any potential spelling errors during its check, it displays a Spelling window, as shown in Figure 4-16, showing the offending word and a list of suggestions.

The Spelling window offers a wide range of choices. If you want to use the list of suggestions to perform a correction, you have three options:

  • Click one of the words in the list of suggestions, and then click Change to replace your text with the proper spelling. Double-clicking the word has the same effect.

    Figure 4-16. When Excel encounters a word it thinks is misspelled , it displays the Spelling window. The cell containing the wordbut not the actual word itselfgets highlighted with a black border. Excel doesn't let you edit your file while the Spelling window is active. You either have to click one of the options on the Spelling window or cancel the spell check.

  • Click one of the words in the list of suggestions, and click Change All to replace your text with the proper spelling. If Excel finds the same mistake elsewhere in your worksheet, it repeats the change automatically.

  • Click one of the words in the list of suggestions, and click AutoCorrect. Excel makes the change for this cell, and for any other similarly misspelled words. In addition, Excel adds the correction to its AutoCorrect list (described in Section 2.2.2). That means if you type the same unrecognized word into another cell (or even another workbook), Excel automatically corrects your entry. This option is useful if you've discovered a mistake that you frequently make.

Tip: If Excel spots an error but it doesn't give you the correct spelling in its list of suggestions, just type the correction into the "Not in Dictionary" box and hit Enter. Excel inserts your correction into the corresponding cell.

On the other hand, if Excel is warning you about a word that doesn't represent a mistake (like your company name or some specialized term ), you can click one of the following buttons :

  • Ignore Once skips the word and continues the spell check. If the same word appears elsewhere in your spreadsheet, Excel prompts you again to make a correction.

  • Ignore All skips the current word and all other instances of that word throughout your spreadsheet. You might use Ignore All to force Excel to disregard something you don't want to correct, like a person's name. The nice thing about Ignore All is that Excel doesn't prompt you again if it finds the same name, but it does prompt you again if it finds a different spelling (for example, if you misspelled the name).

  • Add to Dictionary adds the word to Excel's custom dictionary. Adding a word is great if you plan to keep using a word that's not in Excel's dictionary. (For example, a company name makes a good addition to the custom dictionary.) Not only does Excel ignore any occurrences of this word, but if it finds a similar but slightly different variation of that word, it provides the custom word in its list of suggestions. Even better, Excel uses the custom dictionary in every workbook you spell check.

  • Cancel stops the operation altogether. You can then correct the cell manually (or do nothing) and resume the spell check later.

Other Proofing Tools

Spreadsheet spell checking is a useful proofing tool. But Excel doesn't stop there. It piles in a few more questionable extras to help you enhance your workbooks. You'll find them all in the Review Proofing section of the ribbon.

Along with the spellchecker, Excel offers these goodies :

  • Research . Click this button to open a Research window, which appears on the right side of the Excel window, and lets you retrieve all kinds of information from the Web. The Research window provides a small set of Internet-driven services, including the ability to search a dictionary for a detailed definition, look in the Encarta encyclopedia, or get a delayed stock market quote from MSN Money. Section 26.2.3 has more.

  • Thesaurus . Itching to promulgate your prodigious prolixity? (Translation: wanna use big words?) The thesaurus can help you take ordinary language and transform it into clear-as-mud jargon. Or, it can help you track down a synonym that's on the edge of your tongue. Either way, use this tool with care.

  • Translate . Click this button to translate words or short phrases from one language to another. This feature isn't included in the standard Office installation, so you may need to have the Office DVD handy the first time you click this button.

4.3.1. Spell Checking Options

Excel lets you tweak how the spell checker works by letting you change a few basic options that control things like the language used and which, if any, custom dictionaries Excel examines. To set these options (or just to take a look at them), choose Office button Excel Options, and then select the Proofing section (Figure 4-17).

You can also reach these options by clicking the Spelling window's Options button while a spell check is underway.

Figure 4-17. The spell checker options allow you to specify the language and a few other miscellaneous settings. This figure shows the standard settings that Excel uses when you first install it.

The most important spell check setting is the language (at the bottom of the window), which determines what dictionary Excel uses. Depending on the version of Excel that you're using and the choices you made while installing the software, you might be using one or more languages during a spell check operation.

Some of the other spelling options you can set include:

  • Ignore words in UPPERCASE . If you choose this option, Excel won't bother checking any word written in all capitals (which is helpful when your text contains lots of acronyms).

  • Ignore words that contain numbers . If you choose this option, Excel won't check words that contain numeric characters , like Sales43 or H3ll0 . If you don't choose this option, then Excel flags these entries as errors unless you've specifically added them to the custom dictionary.

  • Ignore Internet and file addresses . If you choose this option, Excel ignores words that appear to be file paths (like C:\Documents and Settings ) or Web site addresses (like

  • Flag repeated words . If you choose this option, Excel treats words that appear consecutively ("the the") as an error.

  • Suggest from main dictionary only . If you choose this option, the spell checker doesn't suggest words from the custom dictionary. However, it still accepts a word that matches one of the custom dictionary entries.

You can also choose the file Excel uses to store custom wordsthe unrecognized words that you add to the dictionary while a spell check is underway. Excel automatically creates a file named custom.dic for you to use, but you might want to use another file if you're sharing someone else's custom dictionary. (You can use more than one custom dictionary at a time. If you do, Excel combines them all to get one list of custom words.) Or, you might want to edit the list of words if you've mistakenly added something that shouldn't be there.

To perform any of these tasks , click the Custom Dictionaries button, which opens the Custom Dictionaries dialog box (Figure 4-18). From this dialog box, you can remove your custom dictionary, change it, or add a new one.

Figure 4-18. Excel starts you off with a custom dictionary named custom.dic (shown here). To add an existing custom dictionary, click Add and browse to the file. Or, click New to create a new, blank custom dictionary. You can also edit the list of words a dictionary contains (select it and click Edit Word List). Figure 4-19 shows an example of dictionary editing.

Figure 4-19. This custom dictionary is fairly modest. It contains three names and an unusual word. Excel lists the words in alphabetical order. You can add a new word directly from this window (type in the text and click Add), remove one (select it and click Delete), or go nuclear and remove them all (click Delete All).

Note: All custom dictionaries are ordinary text files with the extension .dic. Unless you tell it otherwise, Excel assumes that custom dictionaries are located in the Application Data\Microsoft\UProof folder in the folder Windows uses for user -specific settings. For example, if you're logged in under the user account Brad_Pitt, you'd find the custom dictionary in the C:\Documents and Settings\Brad_Pitt\Application Data\Microsoft\UProof folder.

Excel 2007[c] The Missing Manual
Excel 2007[c] The Missing Manual
ISBN: 596527594
Year: 2007
Pages: 173 © 2008-2017.
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