When Microsoft Word introduced significant changes to its design in 2007, one thing that seemed to disappear was Spelling and Grammar Check. Luckily, it still exists, albeit hidden, and it has become a lot more useful.
Under the “Review” tab (between “Mailings” and “View”), spelling and grammar check finds its home. Here, the first button on the toolbar will point out all of (or many, it IS just a computer and not a writing tutor, after all) your spelling errors and sentence fragments. There is only one problem with this: many professors are on the lookout for far more than your standard grammar errors. These professors might ask you to use only active voice (and avoid passive) and remind you that contractions are strictly forbidden.
Standard grammar check will not highlight these errors, but right now, on my screen, “are strictly forbidden” has a lovely squiggly blue line under it because it is an example of passive voice. This has happened (the blue line, not the passive voice) because I adjusted my settings. Under the “File” tab, the same place you will find “Save” and “Print”, you will find “Options” at the bottom of the list on the left.
This opens up another window. One of the items in the list there is “Proofing.” Under the section, “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word” is an option “Writing Style” with a drop-down menu. The default is “Grammar Only.” If you change this to “Grammar and Style,” Word will gladly yell at you too for passive voice and contraction use. There are many, many more functions of Word you can adjust here, such as what is auto-corrected, but that’s a topic for another day.
For now, enjoy the colorful little squiggly lines that Word gives you and remember, if you’re unsure why that line is there, simply place the cursor over it and right click. Grammar check will offer corrections or at least tell you which error it sees.