Finding Commonly Misspelled Words


Find Commonly Misspelled Words that Microsoft Word’s Spell Checker won’t catch.

What if you used to when you meant to use too? Their instead of there?

So, you need to check your Word document for typos like these. When Clicking Spelling and Grammar in the Review Tab doesn’t catch them, what to do?

The typos I make most often include homonyms, and words I type instead of other words.

There are many, many homonyms (words that sound the same but mean different things), but I only commonly misspell the following:
There, Their, They’re
To, Too, Two
Than, Then
Wonder, Wander
Lets, Let’s
Your, You’re
Capitol, Capital
Its, It’s
Principle, Principal
Whose, Who’s

I often type The for Them, That, Then, …
I often type You for Your, You’re
And I often wrongly interchange Though and Through.

To find this list of words, I could write a Word Macro – go ahead if you’re so inclined. Just go through the document, selecting each word as you go. Stop if that word matches one in your list. Stop when you get to the end of the document.

Or, I could possibly purchase a Word Addin or possibly find a free one in the Office Store. I looked. Didn’t find anything I wanted.

You could maybe to contextual proofing, but that’s not an option I can find in my version of Word.

When I realized my list was rather short, I decided to check my document manually. It wasn’t very long. If you’re checking a novel, you may want to take a few chapters at a time and come back and do a few more the next day.

Before you do any manual checking, click the down arrow on the Quick Access Ribbon and select More Commands…. Select All Commands, check Find (the one with the magnifying glass that says Navigation and Dialog when highlighted) and Find Next (Magnifying glass with right arrow). Click Add, then OK.
If you don’t see the Quick Access Toolbar above the Manu Bar (File, Home, Insert, …), select File, Options. Then select Quick Access Toolbar. Then Uncheck to show it below the ribbon. Click OK.

Now, click on the Magnifying Glass. Enter the first word in the homonym list (there). Click More. Check Find Whole Words and check Sounds Like. Click Find Next. Close the Find Dialog box. To Refind, Click the Magnifying Glass with the Right Arrow (Find Next). Correct errors as you find them. There will match There, They’re, Their.
To will match To, Too, Two, Do, Day – don’t ask about those last two, just ignore them when found.

When you’re done with the Homonyms, uncheck Sounds Like. Then find all occurrences of the other words you want to check.

Happy Proofing!