Exploring Office 2007: Improved Tools: Page 2

Posted February 21, 2008

Helen Bradley

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» Excluding Words

It is not possible to edit words that are stored in Word's own dictionary, although you can flag words to be excluded from it. You might use this option if, for example, you often use a correctly spelled word in the wrong context so that it is technically an incorrect spelling. If you exclude the correctly spelled word from Word's dictionary it will be flagged as a misspelling, prompting you to check that you have used the word in the correct context.

Word 2007, in contrast to earlier versions, automatically creates an exclusion dictionary for you. You will, however, need to find it first, which you can do by locating your C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Microsoft\UProof folder. Look for the file called ExcludeDictionaryEN0409.lex or something similar — the 0409 value will be different if you are using something other than US English.

To exclude a word from Word's dictionary open the ExcludeDictionaryEN0409.lex file in a text editor like Wordpad and type each excluded word, one per line, in lowercase letters. Close the file, restart Word, and test the results by typing the word that you have excluded.

It should be flagged as a potential spelling error. You can't add an excluded word to the custom.dic file using Add to dictionary so, if you change your mind about excluding the word, you need to remove it from your ExcludeDictionary0409.lex file.

» Contextual Spelling

Microsoft Word 2007 has a contextual spelling option that wasn't available in earlier versions. This tool checks words in the context they are used and reports a word as a misspelling even if it is correctly spelled but where it is incorrect in the context of the sentence.

If it is not enabled, you can enable this feature by enabling the Use Contextual Spelling option in the Proofing area of the Word Options dialog. With it selected, Word will look for words in context and, for example, if you type "he liked one more then the other," the word then will be flagged as a potential misspelling as the correct word is than in the context of the sentence.

While contextual spelling is useful it is still somewhat limited and it doesn't pick up a lot of contextual spelling errors. However, it will help avoid a number of them, including the very problematic and quite pervasive its and it's.

» Changing Wavy Line Color

One of the oddities of Word's spelling option is that Microsoft uses the colors red and green to indicate spelling and grammar errors. For some colorblind people these colors cannot be separately identified. If the issue affects you, or if you just want to personalize your Word program, you can change the color of the wavy underline to a different color.

To do this you'll need to edit the Windows registry and you should, before you do so, make a backup of the registry in case you encounter problems. To do this, click Start > Run, type Regedit and press Enter. Choose File > Export and select All as the Export range. Now type a filename, select a location for the file and click Save to back it up.

Now, to change the color of the lines locate this registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Proofing Tools

If the SpellingWavyUnderlineColor entry exists, double-click it and when the Edit DWORD value dialog appears, click Hexadecimal and type an eight digit hexadecimal number representing the RGB color value of the color to use with two leading zeros. So to use Blue, type 000000FF and click Ok.

To change the grammar wavy underline color, change the GrammarWavyUnderlineColor value, and to change the contextual spelling error color change the DWORD value for the ContextualSpellingWavyUnderlinecolor entry.

If any of these values do not appear in the list, from the Edit menu choose New > DWORD value, type the entry and then double-click it and change its DWORD value to your preferred hexadecimal number. Close the registry, restart the computer, and restart Word to apply the changes. If you're unsure how to create RGB values visit a site like this one: http://www.patman.org/webdesign/hexcolors2.asp, choose the color to use, read off its hexadecimal value and add two leading zeros to it.

» Spelling Help

One little known feature of Word is that it can help you check the spelling of a word if you're not completely sure how it is spelled. For example, if you're unsure how to spell accommodation, you can type the bit of the word you do know and replace the bit you're unsure about with a question mark — for example, accom?dation.

Select the word, press F7, and Word will locate words which match the pattern of the word that you have typed and offer them as alternate spellings. The question mark is a wildcard and replaces an unknown letter.

As you can see, there's a lot more to Word's spelling options than first meet the eye. With some understanding of how they work and how you can adjust them to meet your needs, you can turn this tool into an even better productivity tool to help you with your work.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. She blogs at http://www.projectwoman.com/blogger.html.

This article was first published on WinPlanet.com.

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