How to spell check in Excel (with definition and uses)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you're creating a professional business document, presenting your work in the most formal and effective way possible is key. This means that you set a good impression with your documentation, drawing in potential clients and winning over vendors with a greater degree of professionalism. Being able to use the spell check tool in Excel can help you ensure that your spreadsheets and other documents meet this professional standard. In this article, we discuss how to spell check in Excel, the importance of spell check in a spreadsheet and how to modify your spell check to work more effectively.

Understanding how to spell check in Excel

Spell check is a system present in the majority of Microsoft Office software packages so knowing how to spell check in Excel is beneficial for the rest of the Office suite too. Spell check finds issues in the spelling of your work and recommends suggestions for corrections and improvements. This not only improves the way a piece of work reads but also its flow through grammar and punctuation recommendations. Spell check focuses on more than spelling, improving all facets of your written work.

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How to use spell check in Excel

There are several steps in the process of using spell check in Excel. Each step benefits the end product of your spreadsheet. Learn more about using spell check in Excel below:

1. Open spell check

The first step in the process is to open the spell check dialog box. There are a couple of different ways to do this. Pressing the "F7" key acts as a shortcut that opens up the dialog box in a quick and easy way. In the event that this isn't possible, find the "Spelling" button in the "Review" tab of the ribbon at the top of Excel. This also opens the dialog box and allows access to the spell check features of Excel.

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2. Selecting cells

When completing a spell check, checking different cells is a key part of the process. In the majority of cases many of your cells are numerical whereas others feature vast reams of text requiring a thorough check. When you select any cell that isn't A1, such as D9, spell check goes through all of the cells to the right, then the next row, or E1. After completing the check, Excel asks if you want to continue checking the beginning of the sheet. Depending on the nature of your data, use this as a time-saving method.

3. Use the dialog box

In all cases in which you use the dialog box, having a thorough understanding of what each option means and how to use it is crucial. This gives you full control over your spreadsheet and the ability to resolve any issues. Below are some of the options in the spell check dialog box and what each option means and does for your spreadsheet.

  • Ignore Once: Spell check ignores the error in this instance but not for other instances throughout the spreadsheet.

  • Ignore All: Spell check ignores every single instance of the error throughout the spreadsheet.

  • Add to Dictionary: In the event that Excel flags a particular word as an error when it's the correct word, "Add to Dictionary" adds it to your acceptable words. This word then never flags in any Excel spreadsheets on your account.

  • Change: Change this instance of the error to the suggestion in the box below.

  • Change All: Change all instances of a particular error to the suggestion in the box below. This is ideal for consistent typos and spelling errors throughout a spreadsheet.

  • AutoCorrect: This changes the misspelt word to the selected suggestion and adds the term to the autocorrect list. Next time you make the mistake, Excel converts the text automatically.

  • Dictionary Language: This changes the language the dictionary uses, changing autocorrect and spell check to a range of different languages in the case of multilingual spreadsheets.

Related: What is a dialog box? A beginner guide in programming

4. Adjust your settings

There's a wide selection of settings in Excel's spelling options. Depending on the nature of your spreadsheet, modifying your settings in a way that tailors the spreadsheet to deal with your specific requirements is a crucial part of the process. This is because every spreadsheet differs significantly, from the importance of upper case titles to the use of different languages and their spellings. By tailoring the settings of your spreadsheet you ensure that all of your spreadsheet's language choices are as accurate as feasibly possible. These options are within the "Proofing" section of the Excel Options menus.

Why is spell check useful?

Spell check is useful for a wide range of reasons depending on both business and personal needs. The first of these benefits is that presenting your spreadsheets to third parties is a far simpler process when there's a significant degree of accurate spellchecking in place. This is primarily because viewers of the spreadsheet have a better understanding of what you mean, rather than deciphering misspellings. Furthermore, spell check means that your work is more professional, as people hold proofed work in higher regard than work featuring a litany of errors.

In addition to appearing more professional, one of the most significant benefits of using spell check in Excel is that it makes returning to the document at a later point significantly easier. This is because revisiting a spreadsheet with a significant number of errors is confusing whereas a spreadsheet in which each piece of information is present and legible is far easier to return to. When returning to a spreadsheet after a break, it's far simpler to get back into the flow of sheets featuring spell-checked work than those without thorough checking.

Adjusting spell check settings

There are a wide range of settings available for users of spell check in Excel. Adjusting these settings means that you make the most of your time with the software, producing the best quality spreadsheet possible. Learn more about some of the more important spell check settings below:

Words in upper case

One of the default key rules in spell check settings is ignoring words in upper case. This is in place as a means of preventing the spell check system from changing the spelling of company names, locations and other proper nouns. In the event that a spreadsheet features significant amounts of upper case text, disabling this is key. This means that you check over every misspelt word and prevent upper case text errors reaching the final version.

Flag repeated words

In this setting, users have the option of spell check flagging repeated words. For example, an "is is" or "are are" is in the majority of cases a typo that requires resolution. In some cases repeating words is grammatically correct and in the event that this is a common part of a writing style, spell check flagging each instance is unnecessary. There's an option to turn this flagging off and instead resolve the issue of repeat words on your own without the support of the automated program.

Ignore addresses

In this setting, users have the capacity to prevent their spell checker from examining links to external websites. This means that a spell checker doesn't change the specific wording of web addresses. Keeping addresses without adjustment is important, as changing a single character in a web address entirely stops it from working, or even redirects to a completely different site. Although many people recommend keeping this setting on, there are those who suggest spell checking links and only adjusting them in the rare instance that there's a typo in the link requiring resolution.

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Suggest from main dictionary only

Whilst adding words to your own personal dictionary is beneficial for preventing spell check from picking up on your wording, there are risks when asking spell check to recommend words from your personal dictionary. This is why suggesting from the main dictionary only is an option. This means that the spell check software only recommends words from the main English dictionary without adding your own personal terms into the recommendations. Disable this if you use a lot of your own personal terms.

Language specific settings

In the event that you write in French or Spanish, there's a specific set of settings available to support your writing. For example, allowing "Traditional and new spellings" in French or restricting Spanish to "Tuteo verb forms only" means that you have a greater degree of control over your use of the language, resulting in a better spreadsheet going forwards.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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