I recently saw a question on the [#blog/phdchat channel]1 that made me dig a bit deeper into the MS Word Spelling & Grammar checker options.

@solomon_kazza @KristinG63 Oh! Sentences >60 words can be marked in word by spelling & grammar per https://t.co/MPLDQYW8CW phdchat writing

— Simon Knight (@sjgknight) November 29, 2015

It turns out there are a bunch of options hidden away, of course some of these [need ‘taming’]2, or [turning off]3, but many are useful, and knowing where they are/how to use them is useful.  I’ve also seen a number of grammar and style checkers, often as word addons, recently and am interested that many share most functionality with the MS Word features, with presentational tweaks (more on this soon). To find these features in Word, go to the main file menu and click ‘options’, then: 1. Select proofing:1 options 2. Go to spelling and grammar options:2 option dash 3. Select ‘grammar and style’ and click settings for a long list of options:3 top options4 mid options5 bottom options There are lots of options to play with here (plus, adding words to the dictionary, etc. to ensure you’re not getting lots of distracting false negatives is probably sensible). I suspect lots of people ignore most of the inbuilt checking, so thinking about alternative modes of presentation would be interesting. One way to do that is through addins (see [e.g.s]4) or macros (see below). Knowing when to make use of which features (and when and how to turn off distracting features) is key here. One of the inbuilt functions in MS Word is spotting long sentences (>60 words). However, it might also be useful to identify a lower threshold, or to identify particularly short sentences. For that purpose (and various others), you can also write macros for Word. So, for the sentence length issue (with thanks to [here]5 and [here]6):  

Sub Mark_Long()
    Dim iMyCount As Integer
    Dim iWords As Integer

    If Not ActiveDocument.Saved Then
    End If

    'Reset counter
    iMyCount = 0 

    'Set number of words
    iWords = 35 ' <==== change as required

    For Each MySent In ActiveDocument.Sentences
        If MySent.Words.Count > iWords Then ' <==== play with to look at sentences of varying length
            MySent.Font.Color = wdColorRed
            iMyCount = iMyCount + 1
        End If
    MsgBox iMyCount & " sentences longer than " & _
      iWords & " words."
End Sub

This can be added to Word by: 1. Going to the ‘view’ tab and selected ‘macros’ on the right (make sure to click on it, and not the down arrow to view more options)01 macro select 2. Typing a new macro name (e.g. ‘LongSen’, or ‘test’ here), and clicking ‘create’02 macro create 3. Pasting the code into the space between the ‘sub LongSen ()’ and ‘End Sub’ 4. You can ‘run’ the code from the macro list, or you can add it as a button to one of your menus by: 1. Going into file options, and clicking either ‘Customize Ribbon’ or ‘Quick Access Toolbar’ 2. Selecting ‘Macros’ in the drop down menu to choose commands, and adding the macro you’ve selected to the menu of your choice03 macro button Photo by volkspider


  1. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23phdchat

  2. http://www.subversivecopyeditor.com/blog/2010/10/taming-ms-words-infuriating-features.html

  3. http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/microsoft-office/10-annoying-word-features-and-how-to-turn-them-off/

  4. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1uG3GmMu3VDyAYXI2_IcBnU0gpZ2xFqMGZFq2msbYvd0/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000#slide=id.gd58fd3200_0_71

  5. http://wordribbon.tips.net/T011909_Finding_Long_Sentences.html

  6. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:FZ0wqn13LhIJ:answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2007-word/sentences-length-indicators/941b7508-8e34-4070-a7c6-bb27d1fbab88%3Fdb%3D5+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au