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Controlling Runaway Clichés And Other Grammar Problems

Controlling Runaway Clichés And Other Grammar Problems

Did you know that you have some control over the type of grammar mistakes MS Word looks for?


I didn’t either until I stumbled through some information about having Word’s grammar check catch common cliches in my writing. As I started investigating the options I discovered just how many choices we really do have.

Want to know where to find your options? Yes?

Well, of course yes. (Don’t we all love to have our options put before us?)

So let’s get right to the point. (Or, in this case, the options.)

To find your grammar options you need to go to the program options. (Where else?)

That would be in the Tools menu, Options choice. (You could also use the keys Alt, T then O—not zero—one at a time.)

Once you have the Options window open, you’re looking for the Spelling and Grammar tab.


On this tab you’re looking for the Settings button with the Writing Style field.

(MS Word 97 and 2000 have things slightly rearranged but they’re close in placement and the only Settings button on the tab.)

Click the Settings button.

Now that you’re into the “Grammar settings” window it’s time to make your choices.

If you’re working in Word 97 then the window looks like this:


If you’re working in a newer version of Word then the window should look something like this one.


Either way, the top section is to choose which type of writing style the grammar check applies to. (For most of us, the Standard writing style is what we need.)

It’s the middle / bottom sections that we’re interested in.

The checklist contains all your options.

Simply check any type of grammar mistake that you want the program to warn you about.

For example, if you want Word to warn you when you’re using common cliches contained in the program’s dictionary then you would scroll down to the Style section and check Cliches.

With that option checked, the following sentences are marked with grammar mistakes because of the cliches.


Now when you right click on the green underlines there will be a suggestion for the removal of the cliché.


There are also three drop down lists where you can set options relating to comma usage in lists, punctuation with quotes, and spaces between sentences.

These things can be set to your preferences or left on “don’t check” so that Word leaves these issues completely alone.

At any rate, there’s a lot to go through. Take your time—find the options that will be most useful to you.

I need to make a quick note here: If you find that you’ve made too many changes, and no longer find the grammar help useful, you can always use the Reset All button and return to the program defaults.

When you’ve made all the changes you need, click the OK button.

You’ll be returned to the Options window where you’ll need to click OK again.

And that’s it.

Now your grammar check is (hopefully) working a little more to your liking—or at the very least behaving more like you believe it should.

Does that last part leave you wishing you had a checklist for the kids’ behavior?

Yeah, that came to my mind too.

Oh well… we can’t have everything.

~ April