MS-PowerPoint / Getting Started

Checking Spelling

Spelling errors are never a good thing. At best, they can give your audience the impression that you do not pay attention to details. At worst, they can actually prevent your audience from understanding what you are talking about. And make no mistake about it: the typo that no one but the former English teacher noticed when it appeared on a hard-copy handout is obvious to everyone when it is four feet high and splashed across a projector screen.

Spell checkers' suggestions are not always right, and they can miss errors, too. What is more, studies suggest that some folks actually make more mistakes when they use spell checkers than when they do not because they rely on the tool instead of their own proofreading skills. A spell checker can be a timesaver, but it is no substitute for carefully reading through your presentation.

PowerPoint gives you two choices when it comes to spell checking your presentation. You can check as you go, automatically, or wait until you're finished with your presentation and then run the check manually.

Setting up spelling

Whether you choose automatic spell checking or manual, you want to give PowerPoint a heads-up on what kinds of special words to look out forwords like company-specific acronyms, passwords, or other non-words that you want PowerPoint to skip during a spell check. To set spelling options:

  1. Select Office button> PowerPoint Options. The PowerPoint Options window appears.

  2. On the left side of the PowerPoint Options window, click the Proofing category to select it. Turn on the checkbox next to one or more of the following:

    Ignore words in UPPERCASE.
    You want to choose this option if you use a lot of acronyms, like FUBAR.

    Ignore words that contain numbers.
    This option is useful if, say, you are a system administrator who peppers presentations with passwords like abcd444.

    Ignore Internet and file addresses.
    This option tells the spell checker not to flag computer-era "words" such as and mktFinal.txt.

    Flag repeated words.
    Catches mistakes mistakes that the human eye often misses.

    In the end click OK.

The PowerPoint Options window disappears, returning you to your slides.

Automatic (continuous) Spell Checking

Out of the box, PowerPoint assumes you want it to flag misspelled words automatically, as you type, by underlining them with a wavy red line.

If you see an obvious misspelling on a slide but do not see a wavy underline, someone turned off automatic spell checking. To turn it on again, select Office Button> PowerPoint Options> Proofing. Then make sure the radio box next to "Check spelling as you type" is turned on, and the one next to "Hide spelling errors" is turned off.

To correct a misspelling, right-click the misspelled word.

Quick Access toolbar

PowerPoint's spell checker examines WordArt and charts, but ignores misspellings in any pictures (such as bitmaps) or graphs that you add to your slides.

From the context menu that appears, click to choose one of the following options:

One of the suggested correct spellings
(In the example the suggested correct spellings are INSTALLATION, INSTILLATION, and INSTALLATIONS). Power-Point's built-in dictionary contains quite a few common words, so unless you are using trademarked names or jargon, chances are good you will find the correct spelling listed for the word you have misspelled. When you choose a word, the context menu disappears. On the slide, PowerPoint replaces the misspelled version with the corrected version you chose.

Ignore All
Tells PowerPoint to ignore this misspelled word each time it encounters it in this presentation. Choose this option when you are using an "illegitimate" word that you don't want PowerPoint to recognize a year from now, such as company-specific code name you know will be retired after the presentation you are currently working on.

When you choose this option, the context menu disappears, as does the red wavy line beneath the misspelled word. PowerPoint does not flag additional occurrences of the misspelling (if it encounters them) in this presentation.

Add to Dictionary
Tells PowerPoint to ignore this particular spelling when it appears in any presentation (technically, any presentation to which you have attached a custom dictionary. This is the option you want to use for teachers' names, company acronyms, and other words you know you will be using in more than one presentation. When you choose this option, the context menu disappears, as does the red wavy line beneath the misspelled word. PowerPoint does not flag additional occurrences of this new word (assuming it encounters them) in any presentation.

Tells PowerPoint to display the Spelling dialog box.

Spelling Dialog Box

The options you can choose from in this dialog box change depending on whether or not you have selected a suggested spelling. Here, the suggested spelling INSTALLATION is selected, so Power-Point activates all of the options. If you do not select a suggested spelling, then the only available options are Resume, Ignore All, Add, Suggest, Options, and Close.

In the Spelling dialog box, you tell PowerPoint how to handle the misspelled word. Your options include:

Tells PowerPoint to ignore this particular occurrence of the misspelling, but to highlight any additional occurrences it finds in this presentation.

Ignore All
Tells PowerPoint to ignore every existing occurrence of the misspelling in this presentation.

Tells PowerPoint to swap the selected suggestion (in Figure INSTALLATION) for this particular occurrence of the misspelling.

Change All
Tells PowerPoint to swap the selected suggestion for every existing occurrence of the misspelling.

Tells PowerPoint to add the "misspelled" word to the custom dictionary you choose.

Tells PowerPoint to cough up additional suggested spellings.

Tells PowerPoint to keep an eye out for this misspelling in the future, and automatically substitute the selected suggestion if you misspell the same word the same way again.

Closes the Spelling dialog box without taking any additional action.

Tells PowerPoint to display the PowerPoint Options window, which lets you customize the way PowerPoint checks spelling.

Manual Spell Checking

Some folks find automatic spell checking more distracting than helpful. They either resent those wavy red underlines distracting them while they are busy trying to concentrate, or they just get so used to seeing the underlines that they ignore them and end up leaving in misspellings.

If either of these reactions sounds familiar, you will want to turn off automatic spell checking and run the tool yourself, when you have finished composing your text and are ready to begin proofreading in earnest.

To turn off automatic spell checking:

  1. Select Office button> PowerPoint Options> Proofing. The PowerPoint Options window appears showing all the spelling and automatic spelling options.

    The options you set here in the PowerPoint Options window are divided into labeled sections. Some settings (such as whether or not you want the spell checker to flag repeated words) affect all Microsoft Office programs, others (such as whether or not you want automatic spell checking turned on) affect PowerPoint only.

  2. Turn off the checkbox next to "Check spelling as you type" and then click OK. The PowerPoint Options window disappears.

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