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Chapter 3. Working with Text > Checking Spelling and Style

Checking Spelling and Style

Creating a quality, error-free, and easy-to-read presentation is a natural objective when you use PowerPoint. PowerPoint's spelling and style checkers can help. Keep in mind that, although these automated tools can help you catch errors, they aren't foolproof and don't take the place of thorough proofreading by a real person. To set options for spelling and style checks, select Tools, Options and go to the Spelling and Style tab, shown in Figure 3.12.

Figure 3.12. You can set several spell checking options.

Setting Spelling Options

You can choose any of the following spelling options:

  • Check Spelling as You Type— Places a red squiggly line under each suspected spelling error as you type it.

  • Hide All Spelling Errors— Doesn't display red underlining for suspected spelling errors.

  • Always Suggest Corrections— Suggests possible correct spelling options when you right-click a red-underlined word.

  • Ignore Words in UPPERCASE— Doesn't check spelling of any word that is all uppercase.

  • Ignore Words with Numbers— Doesn't check spelling of any word that includes a number.

Setting Style Options

If you also want to check style, select the Check Style check box and click the Style Options button. This opens the Style Options dialog box, shown in Figure 3.13.

Figure 3.13. Setting default case and punctuation helps give a more consistent look to your presentation.


The style checker uses the Office Assistant to check style. If the Office Assistant isn't enabled, PowerPoint asks you to enable it.


Although having PowerPoint search for potential style errors can help you find mistakes you wouldn't otherwise notice, be careful to look closely at the changes it suggests rather than just automatically accepting all style changes. Language is often too subtle and complex for automated style checkers, which often yield unusual and unwanted results.

On the Case and End Punctuation tab, you can select the default case and end punctuation styles for your presentation slide titles and body text. Options include the ability to

  • Set Slide Title Style to Sentence case, lowercase, UPPERCASE, or Title Case (the default).

  • Set Body Text Style to Sentence case (the default), lowercase, UPPERCASE, Title Case, or Consistent case. Sentence case is your best choice for regular body text because it's the most readable. Avoid UPPERCASE; it's the least readable.

  • Set Slide Title Punctuation to either Paragraphs Have Punctuation (the default) or Paragraphs Do Not Have Punctuation.

  • Set Body Punctuation to Paragraphs Have Punctuation, Paragraphs Do Not Have Punctuation, or Paragraphs Have Consistent Punctuation (the default, which ensures that your punctuation choices match). For example, a bulleted list in a well-designed presentation shouldn't have a mixture of periods and no periods at the end of the bulleted text; it should be consistent—all list items should end with a period, or none of them should.

Select the check boxes next to each option you want, and choose the style rule you want from the drop-down list.


If you want to place a character other than a period at the end of the slide title or body text, enter the character in the Slide Title or Body Text edit box. For example, you might want to use a colon instead of a period in some cases. In that case, PowerPoint would look for the colon instead of the period.


If you've enabled another language, such as Japanese, additional grammar options might appear for that language.

→ To learn more about foreign language options, see Chapter 22, “Using PowerPoint's Foreign Language Capabilities,” p. 473.

On the Visual Clarity tab, you can view and revise the existing defaults for font clarity and presentation legibility.

On this tab, you can set the

  • Maximum number of fonts

  • Minimum point size for title text

  • Minimum point size for body text

  • Maximum number of bullets

  • Maximum number of lines per title and per bullet

The Visual Clarity tab already includes default selections for these options that are based on basic design principles, but you can change any settings in the adjacent drop-down lists. When you run PowerPoint's spelling checker, it looks for violations of these constraints.


Even though you can change these defaults to suit your needs, think carefully first. Exceeding the recommended number of fonts and bullets and changing to overly small or overly large fonts can make your presentation difficult to read.

If you change the settings on the Style Options dialog box and want to return to PowerPoint's defaults, click the Defaults button.

Running a Spelling and Style Check

After you set the spelling and style options you want, you can check your presentation.

If you set the option to have PowerPoint check spelling as you type, you know immediately when you've possibly misspelled a word. PowerPoint places a red squiggly line under all suspected misspellings, as Figure 3.14 shows. You can either fix the error yourself or right-click to see some suggested alternatives from which to choose. Figure 3.14 shows some suggestions.

Figure 3.14. When you right-click a spelling error, PowerPoint suggests some possible spellings.

PowerPoint missing some of your spelling or style errors? See “Checking Spelling and Style” in the “Troubleshooting” section near the end of this chapter.

You can also spell check your entire presentation all at once. To do so, follow these steps:

Click the Spelling button on the Standard toolbar, or choose Tools, Spelling and Grammar.

When PowerPoint encounters an error, it displays the Spelling dialog box, shown in Figure 3.15.

Figure 3.15. The Spelling dialog box offers several options for handling potential misspellings.

The Not in Dictionary field highlights the misspelled word, and the Change To field suggests the most likely alternative. The Suggestions box also provides additional alternatives.

Select the correct spelling or type it in the Change To field.

The Spelling dialog box also includes several buttons that provide other options:

  • Ignore— Ignores the misspelling and continues checking spelling.

  • Ignore All— Ignores all instances of this misspelling in the presentation and continues checking spelling.

  • Change— Changes the individual misspelled word to the spelling offered in the Change To field.

  • Change All— Changes all instances of this misspelled word to the spelling offered in the Change To field.

  • Add— Adds the suspect word to the custom dictionary as a correctly spelled word.

  • Suggest— Provides additional spelling suggestions.

  • AutoCorrect— Adds the misspelled word and its corrected version to the AutoCorrect list.

  • Close— Closes the dialog box.

→ To learn more about AutoCorrect, seeSetting AutoCorrect Options” in Chapter 21, p. 447.


To further change your custom dictionaries, go to Microsoft Word and choose Tools, Options from the menu bar. On the Spelling and Grammar tab of the Options dialog box, click the Custom Dictionaries button. The Custom Dictionaries dialog box opens, from which you can make additional modifications to your custom dictionaries.

You'll find custom dictionaries stored as text files in one of two locations, depending on your operating system and configuration: C:\Windows_folder\Profiles\User_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Proof, or C:\Windows_folder\Profiles\User_name.


PowerPoint also targets unknown words as spelling errors, such as a person's name, a company name, or a product. Be sure to check carefully for these and add the names and words you commonly use in presentations to the dictionary.

When PowerPoint finishes checking spelling, it informs you with another dialog box.

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