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Word Auditing Tools to Make Quick Changes and Checks to Your Document

Jason Morrell

by Jason Morrell 
May 17, 2021

1.  Word Auditing Tool #1: SPELLING & GRAMMAR CHECK

Once your document is complete you should run a spell-check. It would be a real shame to publish a masterful document and then discover a typo, wouldn't it.

There are two ways you can check your spelling & grammar.


  • Mis-spelt words have a red squiggly underline.
  • Grammatical errors have a blue squiggly underline.
  • The squiggles are there for your reference only. They are not printed.
Bad spelling: Case 1 for using a Word auditing tool
Bad grammar: Case 2 for using a Word auditing tool


Errors are presented one at a time. You can then choose to ignore them or change them.

As a beginner, concentrate on spelling mistakes but don’t worry about grammatical errors, as these appear for all sorts of reasons and unless you have a masters in English you can spend a lot of time chasing your tail trying to fix all the grammatical errors in your document.

The red and blue squiggles are not printed; they are an on-screen aid, designed to highlight errors in real time.

a) How to start a spell check

To conduct a complete spell-check of your document at any time.

1.  Press Ctrl + A to select the entire document or Ctrl Home to start at the top of the document.

2.  Press F7 to start the Spell Check.

Spelling and Grammar tool

Alternatively, single-left-click the REVIEW tab, then single-left-click the SPELLING & GRAMMAR icon on the left-side of the ribbon.

This displays the Editor sidebar, which contains all the tools required to address spellings that Word does not recognise.

Every word within the document is checked against Microsoft's built-in dictionary. When it cannot find a match, it flags it as a possible spelling error.

Word will suggest some alternatives.

The Word spelling editor will suggest some alternatives, often useful, sometimes useless!

b) How to fix a spelling error

If the word is indeed misspelt, you can change it for the correct spelling.

  • To change ONE OCCURRENCE that is currently highlighted, single-left-click the correct suggestion in the list.
  • To change EVERY TIME it appears in the document, single-left-click the drop-down arrow next to the correct suggestion, then single-left-click CHANGE ALL
Click to change the current instance of the incorrectly spelt word or click the dropdown arrow to Change All

c) How to ignore a flagged word

If the flagged word is a genuine word, such as a name or a place, you can ignore it and move onto the next error.

  • To ignore the ONE OCCURENCE that is currently highlighted, single-left-click IGNORE ONCE
  • To ignore EVERY OCCURENCE within the document, single-left-click IGNORE ALL
Ignore a flagged word once or every time

d) How to add a flagged word to the dictionary

If the highlighted word is one you use often, and you have spelt it correctly, you may add it to the dictionary, so it will not be flagged again.

  • Single-left-click ADD TO DICTIONARY.
Adding the flagged word to the dictionary

e) How to manually fix a spelling error

If none of the suggested words are correct:

  • Single-left-click the word within the document itself and make the change manually.
Single-left-click the word within the document itself and make the change manually

When the spell check is complete, a confirmation message is displayed.

When the spell check is complete, a confirmation message is displayed

f) How to ensure your language settings are correct

It is important to check your spelling against the appropriate language for your reader. Even a common language like English has different spellings throughout the world. For example, color vs colour, gray vs grey and aluminum vs aluminium.

At the bottom of the side pane there is a drop-down list of languages to you can switch from English (UK) to English (Australia) to English (US) or whatever your preferred language is.

To spellcheck in your language:

1.  Press Ctrl + A to select the entire document.

2.  Single-left-click ENGLISH (AUSTRALIA) or whatever language is displayed on the status bar.

3.  On the LANGUAGE dialog select your desired language.

4.  UNTICK the box labelled DO NOT CHECK SPELLING OR GRAMMAR to ensure that everything gets checked. This option has a weird arrangement, like a double-negative

Tick/check the SET AS DEFAULT button to use this language as the default in all future new documents. 

Ensure the spelling language is set up correctly in Word. This is often forgotten so this particular Word auditing tool is especially useful.

2. Word Auditing Tool #2: SYNONYMs (make your prose interesting)

A synonym is an alternative word with the same meaning. The image to the right shows the synonyms for the word emphasize.

To display synonyms:

1.  Right-click on a word.

2.  Choose SYNONYMS in the context menu.

3.  On the submenu, choose a synonym from the list.

Choose a synonym from the list. This simple Word auditing tool makes your writing much more interesting.

3. Word Auditing Tool #3: CUT, COPY & PASTE

One of the most useful techniques you can learn as a beginner is to CUT, COPY & PASTE, which allows you to MOVE or COPY items. Items include text, tables, pictures, files and more.

The techniques described in this chapter are demonstrated using a Microsoft Word document, but are universal, so once you have mastered them you can use them in any application.

CUT, COPY & PASTE are always found together.

  • On the HOME tab of most Microsoft applications, the first command group is the CLIPBOARD, where you'll find CUT, COPY & PASTE grouped together.
The Clipboard group in Word contains the cut, copy, paste and Format Painter tools
  • On the keyboard, the letters X, C and V are grouped together.
  • Ctrl + X = Cut
  • Ctrl + C = Copy
  • Ctrl + V = Paste
  • When you right click on most items the CUT, COPY & PASTE options are displayed at the top of the context menu.
Right-click and choose Cut, Copy or Paste from the context menu

a) How to move something

To move something from A to B, you first CUT it from A then PASTE it to B.

1.  Select the item (text, picture etc.)

2.  CUT the item. To cut:

  • Single-left-click the Cut icon on the HOME ribbon
  • or press Ctrl X
  • or right-click then choose CUT from the context menu.

3.  Single-left-click to place the cursor in the location that you wish to move the item to.

4.  PASTE the item. To paste:

  • Single-left-click the Paste icon on the HOME ribbon
  • or press Ctrl V
  • or right-click then choose PASTE from the context menu.

b) How to copy something

To copy / clone / duplicate something, you first COPY the original item then PASTE it where you want the copy to be placed.

1.  Select the item (text, picture etc.)

2.  COPY the item. To copy:

  • Single-left-click the Copy icon on the HOME ribbon
  • or press Ctrl C
  • or right-click then choose COPY from the context menu.

3.  Single-left-click to place the cursor in the location where you wish to place copy.

4.  PASTE the item. To paste:

  • Single-left-click the Paste icon on the HOME ribbon
  • or press Ctrl V
  • or right-click then choose PASTE from the context menu.

Once you have done this a few times, you'll realise that it's a 1-2 second process despite the length of the instructions written above!

Also worth mentioning – once you have cut or copied an item, you can paste it as many times as you want.

c) How to copy formatting, not content

Once you start to grow in confidence and create larger documents, you'll find yourself formatting many things the same way. The best solution is to use STYLES but there is also a neat little tool called Format Painter, which enables you to copy and paste a FORMAT, not CONTENT.

Here's how it works:

If you want to apply this formatting that you've already done …

This is my source text

… to this text

This is my destination text

1.  Single-left-click to place the cursor somewhere in the source text. You don't need to select the actual text if you don't want to.

2.  Single-left-click the Format Painter icon.

The Format Painter tool lets you copy and paste FORMATTING rather than content. There is rarely a day goes by where I don't use this fantastic Word auditing tool.

3.  Select the text that you wish to apply the same formatting to. The formatting you copied will be applied.

To use the Format Painter tool to copy some formatting from one item to lots of other items:

1.  Single-left-click to place the cursor somewhere in the source text.

2.  Double-left-click the Format Painter icon.

3.  Select the first item that you wish to apply the same formatting to. The Painter will remain active.

4.  Select any additional items you wish to format.

5.  Single-left-click the Format Painter icon to switch it off.

d) How to move or copy items between documents

Use this process:

1.  In the first document, select the item that you want to move or copy.

2.  Using any technique shown above, CUT or COPY the item.

3.  Go to the second document.

4.  Using any technique shown above, PASTE the item into the second document.

e) The Office Clipboard vs the Windows Clipboard

The downside of regular cut, copy and paste is that the computer can only hold one item at a time. If you copy ITEM 1 then copy ITEM 2, when you paste, only ITEM 2 (the latest item) will be pasted.

That's because items that you cut or copy are stored on the Windows Clipboard, which can only store one item. One in, one out.

However, there is a second clipboard (less well known) which holds up to 24 items at a time. It works on a rolling basis, so when you copy the 25th item the first item is pushed off the clipboard. But 24 is still useful.

It's called the Office Clipboard.

Here's how it works:

1.  Single-left-click the HOME tab.

2.  Click the launcher (see right) in the Clipboard group.

The Office Clipboard is displayed in the left side pane.

Click the launcher icon in teh bottom-right of the Clipboard group (Home ribbon) to open the Office Clipboard pane

3.  Select the first item and COPY.

4.  Select the second item and COPY.

5.  Repeat for as many items as you want.

Each item is added to the clipboard in the side pane.

Each item you cut or copy is added to the Office Clipboard (up to 24 max). Have you head of this Word auditing tool before now?

To paste any of your collected clipboard items.

1.  Single-left-click on your document to position the cursor.

2.  Single-left-click the item in the side pane.

To paste all of your collected clipboard items into one location:

1.  Single-left-click on your document to position the cursor.

2.  Single-left-click PASTE ALL in the side pane

Click the paste All button in the Office Clipboard pane to past all current clipboard items into the document

To remove a clipboard item:

1.  Hover over the clipboard item you wish to remove.

2.  Single-left-click the drop-down arrow.

3.  Single-left-click DELETE.

To remove an item from the Office Clipboard, right-click the item and choose Delete from the menu

To empty the clipboard:

  • Single-left-click CLEAR ALL in the side pane.
Click the Clear All button on the Office Clipboard to wipe the slate clean

And the best part, if you go to a different program like Excel or PowerPoint and click the launcher in the Clipboard group to display the Office Clipboard, then all the things you collected on the clipboard in Word will be available to use in those other programs as well.

That's why it's called Office Clipboard.

Microsoft Office is the umbrella under which Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook etc. live.

So you can copy stuff in Word and paste it in Excel. Or you could copy stuff in PowerPoint and use it in Word. It's a common clipboard that is available across all the Microsoft Office programs.

4. Word Auditing Tool #4: UNDO & REDO

Everything you do creates an action on a timeline.

  • If you make a mistake UNDO one action at a time to move backwards through your timeline
  • If you UNDO too many steps by mistake, REDO actions to move forwards through your timeline.

To undo the last action:

  • Single-left-click UNDO icon in the Quick Access Toolbar (the curved left arrow in the top-left corner of the Word window)

To undo several actions at once:

1.  Single-left-click the drop-down arrow on the aforementioned icon icon.

2.  Move the mouse pointer down through the list of actions.

3.  When you single-left-click, every highlighted action will be UNDONE.

Word auditing tool #4: Multiple undo and redo. Click the drop-down arrow on the UNDO button to undo as multiple actions in one hit

To redo one action at a time:

  • Single-left-click the REDO icon in the Quick Access Toolbar (the curved right arrow in the top-left corner of the Word window)

Shortcut keys you can use:

  • Press Ctrl Z to UNDO.
  • Press Ctrl Y to REDO.

5. Word Auditing Tool #5: FINDING A TEXT ITEM

To locate an item of text:

1.  Select the Home tab.

2.  Click  in the Editing group, or press §f.

3.  The Navigation side pane is displayed.

4.  Type a word or phrase into the search box and press ENTER.

Word auditing tool #5: FIND. Use the Find tool to locate a word or phrase in your document
  • The number of matches is displayed, and the first match is highlighted in the document
  • Use the ▲ ▼ buttons to go to the next or previous occurrence of the search item.


To replace one text item with another:

1.  In the Navigation pane on the left, click the drop-down arrow next to the search phrase.

2.  Click REPLACE in the Editing group or press Ctrl H.

Use the Replace option to replace one text item with another

3.  The Find and Replace dialog box is displayed

4.  In the Find What box, type the text you want to replace.

5.  In the Replace With box, type the text that will replace the original text.

6.  Click Find Next  to find the next occurrence

Use the Replace tool in the Find dialog to replace one text item with another

When the text item is found, click Replace to replace just this occurrence with the new text or click  Replace All to replace all occurrences of this text item with the new text.

  • Click Find Next to locate the next item, if you are replacing one at a time.
  • Click Cancel to return to your document. Any replacements made will be effective.
  • When the process is complete, Word will display a message confirming the number of replacements made.
When the Find and Replace process is complete, Word will display a confirmation message telling you how many items were replaced

7. Key Takeaways

  • The Spell check can be started by pressing F7. The spell check tool is on the Review tab (left hand side).
  • Mis-spelt words are highlighted in the document with red squiggly underline.
  • Grammatical errors are highlighted in the document with blue squiggly underline.
  • Mis-spelt words can be ignored, changed or added to the dictionary.
  • Synonyms are different words with the same meaning. Right-click any word and choose synonyms to see a list.
  • Cut, copy and paste are three of the most common actions you perform in a document.
  • Use cut, then paste to move an item.Use copy, then paste to clone or duplicate an item.
  • Use the Office Clipboard to store up to 24 cut or copied items. To switch on the Office Clipboard click the launcher in the bottom-right corner of the Clipboard group on the Home ribbon.
  • The Find tool lets you locate words or phrases in the document. Use the Find icon on the right side of the Home ribbon, or press Ctrl + F to display the navigation side pane.
  • The Replace tool lets you replace one text item with another. Use the Replace icon on the right side of the Home ribbon, or press Ctrl H
  • The Undo tool can be used to undo a single action or multiple actions. The Undo tool is found on the Quick Access Toolbar or simply press Ctrl Z
  • The Re-do tool can be used to re-do a single action or multiple actions.The Re-do tool is found on the Quick Access Toolbar or simply press Ctrl Y

I hope you found plenty of value in this post. I'd love to hear your biggest takeaway in the comments below together with any questions you may have.

Have a fantastic day.

Jason Morrell blog signature
About Jason Morrell

About the author

Jason Morrell

Jason Morrell is a professional trainer, consultant and course creator who lives on the glorious Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.

He helps people of all levels unleash and leverage the power contained within Microsoft Office by delivering training, troubleshooting services and taking on client projects. He loves to simplify tricky concepts and provide helpful, proven, actionable advice that can be implemented for quick results.

Purely for amusement he sometimes talks about himself in the third person.


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