Excel works like a mess when it comes to checking misspellings. It does not detect and underline misspelled words automatically as it happens in Word or PowerPoint. If you are unaware of how to make it work in Excel, you will have to check the spelling manually. So, knowing how to turn on spell check in Excel is essential for any Excel user.
We will discuss 8 different methods on how to turn on spell check in Excel. The last method includes five different situations based on requirements. You will be surprised by how even this boring spell-checking task can be turned into something interesting. By the time you finish with this guide, you will know every nook and cranny of the Spell Check option.
Let’s get rolling then!
Practice Workbook: Download Here
All About the Spell Check Option in Excel
Before we begin with the methods, it is important to get familiar with the interface of the Spell Checking option in Excel. The congested look of the Spelling window full of options may make a new Excel user feel overwhelmed. However, it is necessary to know the function of every option in this window.
If you are an intermediate or expert user of Excel and already know what all those options do, feel free to skip to the next section where various methods are discussed.
The Spelling window looks like the picture below. We have numbered all the elements for your ease of learning.
Now we are going to discuss what these options do in a Spell Check.
1. Not in Dictionary: The detected misspelled word. Every word that is not in Excel’s dictionary is considered misspelled.
2. Ignore Once: Using this button ignores the detected misspelled word for the currently running spell-checking session and takes to the next misspelled word.
3. Ignore All: Like the previous option, but applicable for all the “misspelled” words detected by the Spell Check engine for the current spell-checking session.
4. Add to Dictionary: If the detected “misspelled” word is something that does not have a spelling error and you want Excel to not consider this word as misspelled ever again, use this button to add the word to the Excel dictionary. Spell Check will never detect the added word as misspelled again. It could be any correctly spelled word not in the dictionary.
5. Change: Using this button, you can replace your currently misspelled word shown in the Not in Dictionary box (marked 1 in the picture) with a correct word from the Suggestions box (marked 12 in the picture). Afterward, the Spell Checker will take you to the next misspelled word.
6. Change All: Use this button when you want to replace all the misspelled words with respective top words from the suggestion box. It may not always be accurate. We will show an example of its inaccuracy in Method 3’s Steps 3-4.
7. AutoCorrect: This option corrects all sorts of capitalizations in your words (gOoD = Good, EVening = Evening, etc.), capitalizes the first letter of sentences in cells, capitalizes day’s names (sunday = Sunday, etc.), corrects the accidental use of the CAPS LOCK key (such as “I wOULDN’T go” = “I wouldn’t go”), etc. These are not necessarily spelling mistakes. The AutoCorrect option catches and corrects these capitalization errors. Change and Change All options avoid them because these may have wrong capitalizations but are spelled correctly.
8. Cancel: This button stops the running spell-checking operation.
9. Undo Last: This option gets enabled after doing at least one Change or AutoCorrect. It undoes the previous correction.
10. Options…: It opens the Proofing window in Excel Options.
11. Dictionary language: The dictionary you want to use for spell-checking based on the language you are using. For instance, spell-checking against the English (United States) dictionary considers the word “Colour” (UK English) as misspelled and suggests changing it to “Color”. So, based on which language or variation of language you are using, be sure that the correct dictionary is selected here.
12. Suggestions: It shows you correctly spelled words that match closely with the detected misspelled words in Not in Dictionary (marked 1 in the picture). The top word in the list may not always be the right one. So, you may have to choose the word manually from the list. Steps 3-4 of Method 3 will give you a good demonstration of such a case.
Now, Excel will show you the confirmation dialogue box in two cases after you complete a run of Spell Check. In both cases, it means the same thing: There are no misspelled words in your sheet. But it is not as direct and could even mean two opposite things simultaneously.
- The Spell Check has not detected (or failed to detect) any misspelled words in your sheet.
- Your Spell Check run has successfully corrected all the misspelled words.
The approaches to spell-checking that we discuss here ensure that there is not any confusion of this kind. If you follow our methods, all your spell-check attempts will be successful. No misspelled word will escape your attention.
8 Simple Methods on How to Turn on Spell Check in Excel
When working with the Spell Check in Excel, it needs some tweaking to ensure accuracy. So in our methods, we discuss only the most effective ways that bring you accurate results every single time. While even an expert user faces inconveniences with the Spell Check option, you will become a master on how to turn on spell check in Excel after you learn all the methods in this guide.
There is no better way to learn something other than practicing a few times at least. For this, we are sharing the file that we use throughout this guide. Download the file and practice all the techniques. It will help you follow the process in each method in the most precise way.
Let’s start learning, shall we?
Method 1: Checking Part of a Cell’s Content
For our first method, we show you how to do a spell check on a part of a cell’s content. When there are too many strings or words in a cell and you are confused about the spelling of one or two words specifically, this is the way to do a spell check. It also proves helpful if you do not want to mess with other parts of a cell’s content and only want to check particular words.
We will demonstrate the process with a dataset. It can be found in the practice file that we share with you in this guide. Now, in a few simple steps, let’s see how to turn on spell check in Excel for a specific part of a cell’s content.
1. Find the relevant cell and double-click on it to make it editable. In this demonstration, let’s say we were confused about the spelling of the second word in “Diced Tommatoes”. So we wanted to select “Tommatoes” to check if the spelling was correct.
2. Now, select the word for the spell-check. Afterward, click on the Review tab to open the Review ribbon. From there, in the Proofing group, click the Spelling option. Alternatively, you can press the F7 button to open the Spelling option.
In this demonstration, we selected the word “Tommatoes” for the spell-check.
3. Now look in the Suggestions box. Find the correct spelling that you intend to use. Next, click the Change button.
4. Afterward, you will see a confirmation dialogue box. Click the OK button to complete the process.
5. Now you will find your previously selected word to be replaced by the word with the correct spelling which you have chosen from the Suggestion box in Step 3.
In this demonstration, we selected “Tommatoes” which then we replaced with the word “Tomatoes” from the Suggestion box. The change is reflected in the initially selected word.
Quick and easy!
Method 2: Spell Check for Specific Cell Only
This method uses a simple technique where the spell check is done on a selected cell. Usually, when spell check is turned on, by default it scans the whole sheet and takes some time to complete the task. Hence, this method is useful in cases when you need to spell-check a specific cell instead of the whole sheet or workbook. You know distinctly what you want.
Let’s see in steps how to do it.
1. Begin by selecting the cell that you want to do a spell check on. Then, under the Review ribbon, go to the Proofing group and click the Spelling option. You may also simply press the F7 button after selecting the cell.
2. The Spelling window will pop open. From the Suggestions box, choose the word with the correct spelling for your selection. Then click the Change button.
3. After clicking Change, you will be taken to the next misspelled word in your document. Disregard it and click the Close button.
4. At this point, you will see the confirmation dialogue box that your spell check is complete. Click OK.
5. There you have it! Now you can see that the misspelled word(s) in your selected cell has been replaced with the one you have chosen in the Suggestions box in Step 2.
Method 3: Checking a Selected Range
In the previous method, we showed how to turn on and run a spell check on a specific cell in Excel. Now, what if the selection range is bigger than a singular cell? Is there a way to run a spell check on a range of selections instead of the whole sheet?
Yes, there is, and we are about to show you how to do it. For this demonstration, we are going to use the dataset shown below.
Now let us take you through the process of doing a spell check for a selected range.
1. Begin by selecting the range of cells for the Spell Check. Next, click the Spelling option in the Proofing group under the Review ribbon. You can also simply hit the F7 button after selecting your range to open the Spelling window.
2. It will bring up the Spelling mini-window where the spell-checking happens. You can either click Change or Change All based on your preference.
Pressing the Change button lets you choose the correctly spelled word from the Suggestions box. It then moves on to the next one. Change All replaces all the misspelled words in your selected range with the top words from the Suggestion box for the respective misspelled words.
However, Change All is not recommended and you can see the reason in the next two steps.
3. After you select your preferable word from the list and click Change, you are taken to the next misspelled word. From the Suggestions box like before, select the right word and click Change again to correct it, and move to the next misspelled word in your selected range.
Now, the picture in this step for this demonstration shows something important.
Notice the top word in the Suggestions box. The word “Chills” is not the intended correct word for the misspelled “Chilles”. Clicking the Change All option would have chosen this word as the correct replacement which would have been wrong. This is why checking the spelling and correcting them one by one through the use of the Change button is highly recommended.
4. Select the correct word from the Suggestions list and then click Change.
In this demonstration, we were looking for the word “Chilies” as the correctly spelled word to replace the misspelled “Chilles”. We scrolled down to find the intended word and clicked the Change button.
5. Now you will be taken to the next misspelled word. In this manner, one by one (if you use only the Change button and not the Change All button), you will finish checking the spelling of all words within your selected range.
6. Finally, you will see the confirmation dialogue box once your Spell Check is complete. Click the OK button.
7. Now you will find out that all the misspelled words have been corrected with the words you had chosen from the Suggestions box.
It might take a bit of time to go through every misspelled word detected by the Spell Check engine and replace them manually. However, the Suggestions box simply shows you words that have nearby words with correct spellings. Spell Check cannot detect context based on the other words around. It was demonstrated in Steps 3-4 in this method.
For this reason, it is recommended that you avoid using the Change All option and rather use the Change option.
Method 4: Spell Checking Inside a Formula
Turning on Spell Check for a formula in Excel is a complicated task. See the picture of the dataset below. The marked column has formulas in each cell.
After clicking on a cell in this column, the used formula can be seen in the Formula Bar. It is noticeable that the word “Noo” is misspelled. For this demonstration, we made it obvious so that the contrast is easily understood. Now, what if a Spell Check is run on this cell that contains a formula with a misspelled word?
We selected the cell and ran a Spell Check. But see the result below.
You can see that the misspelled word still resides within the formula. But the Spell Check engine is showing a message to ensure that there is no misspelled word in that cell!
Why this inconsistency, you ask? Well, it is because the Spell Check engine in Excel does not run on cells that contain formulas. Formulas are not simple strings of words. For this reason, Spell Check excludes them by default.
Will the formulas with spelling errors be left as they are then? We cannot let that happen now, can we? There is always a way. And in this method, we are going to show you how to turn on spell check in Excel for formulas. Let’s follow the steps below.
1. Select the cell with the formula. Now in the Formula Bar, select to highlight the word(s) inside the formula that you want to run a Spell Check on. Make sure that nothing except for the strings or words is selected. That is, avoid highlighting cell references and other arguments in the formula.
Then click the Spelling option in the Proofing group under the Review ribbon. Alternatively, you can hit F7 which is the shortcut for the Spelling option.
2. The Spelling mini-window will open. Select the correctly spelled word from the Suggestions box and then click the Change button.
3. Now you will see the confirmation message. You will also see that the misspelled word in your highlighted part in the formula has been changed to the correct one that you had chosen in the previous step.
Hit the OK button.
4. Now Fill the other cells in your column with the same formula to see the correct spelling of the word in use within the formula.
Maybe not the most straightforward of ways, but at least it can be done in minimum time now!
Here is a pro tip. Be sure to check out Method 8 where we will discuss methods with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). The VBA codes for spell-checking work on formulas as well.
Method 5: Checking an Active Sheet
So far, we have shown how to turn on spell check in Excel for a specific part of a cell’s content, a cell, a range of cells, and formulas. If you have noticed the trend, you realize that all of those were about checking spells in little areas of your worksheet. Now is the time to go bigger. Therefore, in this method, we show you how to run a Spell Check in your active worksheet.
Before we get into the steps, there is one important thing we should discuss. In Excel, the Spell Check works row by row. It starts from the cell on the top-left and goes to the end of that row. Then it moves to the next row down.
For example, if you select a cell in the middle of your sheet (e.g. cell H10) and then initiate your Spell Check, it will start checking from cell H10 and move towards the last cell of Row 10. Then it will come down to Row 11’s first cell (cell A11) and continue the spell-checking process. Once the whole sheet is checked, the Spell Check will ask if you want to continue checking at the beginning of the sheet with the dialogue box shown below.
To avoid it and do a complete first-to-last Spell Check on your worksheet, always make sure to select the first cell in your sheet (cell A1). Then initiate the Spell Check.
Now let’s see how to do a complete spell-checking run on an active worksheet in Excel.
1. Select the first cell in your sheet (cell A1). Now go to the Proofing group under the Review ribbon and click the Spelling option. It will bring up the Spelling window.
2. Now, in the Spelling mini-window, you will be shown a list of words in the Suggestions box for every misspelled word under the Not in Dictionary. Select the correct word and click Change to move to the next misspelled word detected by the Spell Check.
If you don’t want to do it one by one, press the Change All button to replace all the misspelled words with the words chosen with the Spell Check engine in Excel. However, it is not always accurate, which you can see an example of in Method 3’s Steps 3-4.
3. Once all the misspelled words are replaced with correctly spelled words, Excel will show you a confirmation dialogue box as a completion message. Click the OK button.
Just like that, a Spell Check on an active worksheet in an Excel workbook is done!
Method 6: Checking Spell in Multiple Sheets
What if you need to do a spell check in multiple Excel sheets? Do you go to the sheets one by one and run individual spell checks? This is one way that requires a huge amount of time. In Excel, knowing how to cut down work and accomplish your task faster makes you efficient and smarter.
This is why in this method, we discuss how you can run one instance of Spell Check for multiple sheets. We are going to use the Excel Sheet Tab Bar for this operation. The tab bar is marked in the picture below.
This process involves selecting multiple worksheets within a workbook. Then the Spell Check is initiated. Once a sheet is complete, it moves on to the next sheet and continues checking for spelling errors.
Let’s see in a brief demonstration how to turn on Spell Check in Excel for multiple sheets.
1. In the Excel Sheet Tab bar, go to the first sheet of your intended multiple sheets. Then press and hold the Ctrl button on your keyboard. Now click the tabs of the other sheets that are to be selected for Spell Checks.
The sheet you are currently in will have its name underlined in the tab. The other selected sheets will look similar in color formatting without having underlines in them. Take a look at the picture below for an easier understanding.
2. After selecting the tabs, go to the Review ribbon and click Spelling inside the Proofing group (shown in Step 1 of the previous method). Alternatively, you can press the F7 button on your keyboard. It opens the Spelling window as well.
Now, in that window, replace misspelled words by selecting the correct word from the Suggestions box and then clicking the Change button. You can also use the Change All button to replace all the misspelled words with correctly spelled words in all the sheets that you have selected.
This Change All approach is super-fast but is not as accurate (refer to Method 3’s Steps 3-4 for a demonstration of the inaccuracy of automatic spelling correction). You may use it if you are short on time and do not mind the risk.
3. Once all the Spell Checks have been done and misspellings have been corrected in the sheets you selected, you will see the “Spell check complete” dialogue box. Click OK.
4. Now you need to ungroup the sheets. Simply right-click on one of the selected tabs to bring up the context menu. Then click the Ungroup Sheets option. It will separate the sheets, and you can now select them individually.
This is how you save minutes by doing so many things in one instance in Excel. Nothing short of amazing!
Method 7: Checking an Entire Workbook
Just now, we have shown how you can do a Spell Check in multiple sheets at a single instance. But what if you are required to check the whole workbook for misspellings?
If you have learned the previous method, checking an entire workbook is just as easy. Like before, we are going to use the Excel Sheet Tab Bar for this method.
Let us take you through the steps of the process of Spell Check in an Excel workbook.
1. First, right-click on the Sheet Tab bar. Then click the Select All Sheets option. This will group all the sheets in your workbook.
2. Now go to the first sheet in your workbook and select the first cell in that sheet (cell A1). Then click the Spelling option found inside the Proofing group under the Review ribbon. As always, you may also use the choice of pressing the F7 button.
3. Now the Spelling window will pop open. Select the correctly spelled word from the Suggestions list and then click Change. You may also use the Change All button to let Excel handle the operation of replacing the misspelled words. But it is not a recommended option as it does not understand the context and sometimes fails to choose the right word.
4. Once all the misspells are corrected, Excel will show you the confirmation dialogue box. Click the OK button.
5. For the final step, ungroup the sheets in your workbook. Right-click on a Sheet tab and then click on the Ungroup Sheets option.
That’s it! Pretty easy, isn’t it?
Method 8: Spell Check with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
In most cases, an Excel guide without showing methods that utilize Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is incomplete. VBA makes working in Excel easy. With just a few lines of code, it saves some seconds to many hours depending on the task!
Accomplishing more in less time proves efficiency. This is why the knowledge of VBA also takes an Excel user to the next level. Even if you don’t know how to code in VBA, fear not. We are going to share codes with you which you just need to copy and paste into the VBA editor and run. It’s going to take you even a way less amount of time! Did we even mention that these VBA methods (except for 8.1) even detect misspellings within formulas and show you the locations of those?
Now we are going to discuss five different situations where using the Spell Check in Excel becomes more interesting than non-VBA methods. The first situation here will still use the interface of the Spell Check engine (this will not detect spelling errors within formulas). But the other four situations are where things get more exciting.
You will need to access the Developer ribbon in your Excel to use VBA. If you cannot find it, we will show you at the end of this method how to enable the Developer option in Excel.
Now let’s learn some VBA magic!
8.1: Spell Checking an Entire Workbook
In Method 7, we showed how you can initiate a Spell Check for your entire workbook. But it can be done even faster without going through the process of selecting all the sheets, running the Spell Check, and ungrouping all the sheets. With four lines of VBA code, you can do all that in a few seconds!
1. First, go to the Developer ribbon and click the Visual Basic option in the Code group. It will open up the Visual Basic for Applications editor window. Alternatively, you can press the Alt + F11 buttons as well. Use either option that seems easier and faster to you.
2. In the newly-opened VBA window, click the Insert button in the menu bar, and then, from the drop-down list, click the Module option.
3. It will create and open a Module editor for you to write the code (or copy and paste the code into).
4. Copy the VBA code from below.
Sub EntireWorkbookSpellCheck() For Each ws In Worksheets Sheets(ws.Name).Cells.CheckSpelling Next End Sub
5. Now paste it inside the Module editor. Then click the marked (2) green Run button once. You can press the F5 button once to run the module as well.
6. Now you will see the options for changing your misspelled words from the Suggestions box. Click the Change button to replace words with spelling errors one by one.
7. Once all the misspelled words are sorted, you will be shown the confirmation dialogue box. Click the OK button.
And that’s all. It is much easier than selecting the tabs in your workbook as shown in Method 7, isn’t it? Stick around to see more VBA magic in the upcoming methods. We are just getting started with the VBA!
8.2: Changing Misspelled Text Color in a Selected Range
Up until this point in this guide, we have shown methods that included launching the Spell Check option and selecting words from the Spelling window that offered multiple options. What if you don’t want to go through that lengthy process and simply want to find out the misspelled words? Because in that way, you can correct the spelling yourself instead of scrolling through the list of suggested words.
This option is not readily available in Excel. But Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) lets you do it! With a few lines of code, you can mark the misspelled words in under three seconds. You can then handle them yourself.
In this method, we will demonstrate how you can point out misspelled text in a selected range of cells by using the VBA. Some lines of code will change the color of those misspelled words so you can find them out easily. Let’s see how to get it done!
1. Select the range of cells where you want to find out the misspelled words. Then go to the Code group under the Developer ribbon. Click the Visual Basic option.
You can press the Alt + F11 buttons to open Visual Basic as well.
2. When the VBA window opens, click on the Insert menu, and from the drop-down list, click the Module option. It will open the Module editor window for writing the code.
3. Now copy the VBA code from below.
Sub ColorMispelledTextsInSelection() Dim MySelection As Range Selection.SpecialCells(xlVisible).Select For Each MySelection In Selection If Application.CheckSpelling(word:=MySelection.Value) = False Then MySelection.Font.ColorIndex = 3 End If Next End Sub
4. Paste the copied code inside the Module editor. Then click the Run button once. Alternatively, you can press the F5 button on your keyboard. Finally, close the VBA window.
5. Now you will see that the color of misspelled texts in your selected range has been changed to red.
So fast and precise!
8.3: Changing All Misspelled Text Color
In the previous section, the change of misspelled text’s color happened only within the selected range. Let’s make the range broader now. Time to find all the misspelled words in a sheet and color them red! Follow the steps demonstrated below.
1. Simply go to the Developer ribbon’s Code group and click the Visual Basic option. It will open the VBA window.
2. Click Insert to open the drop-down menu and then click the Module option there. It will open the Module box where the code will be written.
3. Now copy the VBA code given below.
Sub ColorMispelledTexts() For Each MyText In ActiveSheet.UsedRange If Not Application.CheckSpelling(Word:=MyText.Text) Then _ MyText.Font.ColorIndex = 3 Next MyText End Sub
4. Paste the copied code inside the Module editor and then click the Run button (or press the F5 button). Next, close the VBA window.
5. After closing VBA, you will see that all the cells that contain misspelled words are now showing texts in red.
Simply great, isn’t it?
8.4: Highlighting Cells with Misspells in a Selected Range
In some cases, highlighting cells instead of changing the text color of cells with misspelled words seems more reasonable. Cells with different backgrounds are easier to notice. Therefore, we also show the way you can easily highlight cells that contain misspelled words.
In this section, we will demonstrate how to highlight cells with misspelled words in a selected range.
1. Make a selection of your intended range of cells. Then click the Visual Basic option inside the Code group under the Developer ribbon. Or, you can press the shortcut for this option Alt + F11 buttons.
2. In the Visual Basic for Applications window, click the Insert option to open the menu where you will find the Module option. Click on it.
3. You will now see a Module box for the codes to be written inside.
4. Now, copy the code from below.
Sub HighlightMispelledCellsInSelection() Dim MySelection As Range Selection.SpecialCells(xlVisible).Select For Each MySelection In Selection If Application.CheckSpelling(word:=MySelection.Value) = False Then MySelection.Interior.ColorIndex = 6 End If Next End Sub
5. Paste the copied code inside the Module editor. Next, click the green Run button marked (2) in the picture. You may also press the F5 button to run the module. Then close the VBA window.
6. Afterward, you will be taken back to your dataset. You will find that the cells containing misspelled words within your selected range are now highlighted!
Pretty neat, eh?
8.5: Highlighting All Cells with Misspells
In this section, we are making the range broader again and going to show you how to highlight all the cells that contain misspelled words in your Excel sheet. Let’s see in steps how this can be done.
1. As always, go to the Developer ribbon to click on the Visual Basic option in the Code group. Alternatively, press the Alt + F11 buttons for this action.
2. In the newly-opened VBA window, find the Module option under the Insert menu and click on it. It will create and open a new module and show you a Module editor window.
3. Now copy the code from below for this operation.
For Each cl In ActiveSheet.UsedRange
If Not Application.CheckSpelling(Word:=cl.Text) Then _
cl.Interior.ColorIndex = 6
4. Inside the Module editor box, paste the copied code. Then press the Run button marked in the picture. Or simply press the F5 button to run the code and then close the VBA window.
5. You will be taken back to your Excel worksheet. You will see that all the cells that contain misspellings are now highlighted for you to make corrections!
This is one of the fastest ways you can detect and show misspellings in your Excel workbook.
Enabling the Developer Option
By default, the Developer option is not shown in the Excel menu bar. It needs to be checked in the Ribbon customization option to add it to the menu bar. The steps on how to enable it are demonstrated below.
1. Go to the File menu in Excel. Then click Options.
2. It will open the Excel Options window. From there on the left, click Customize Ribbon first. Then go to the right under Customize the Ribbon and make sure to put a check on the Developer option. Finally, click OK to complete the process.
Now you will find the Developer option in the Excel menu bar.
We have reached the end of this guide on how to turn on spell check in Excel. While the issues of spell check in Excel sometimes appear too complicated and return inaccurate results, we only shared with you methods that are completely accurate. And we explained all the methods in steps with corresponding pictures for an effective learning process.
All the methods have been straightforward and they fit certain situations. Therefore, we highly recommend you learn every method discussed in this guide. If you want to find misspellings and correct them one at a time from the list of suggested words, you can use any of Method 1 through Method 7 and Method 8.1 based on the requirements. Method 8.2 to Method 8.5 detects the misspellings and points them out to you which you can then replace with the correctly spelled words. Use any of these four methods according to your needs.
For a better understanding, be sure to use the practice file we are sharing with this guide. Practice a few times to master these methods and take yourself to the next level!