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Word 2013 – Spell Check Not Working

Spell Check Stops Detecting Misspelled Words

Even after clearing the “Do not check spelling…” checkbox, Word doesn’t highlight spelling mistakes in document.

I had been confounded with Word 2013 spell check not working until I finally found the root cause of the issue.  This happened one day while working on a proposal for a prospective client.  I began to notice that the Word spell check had seemingly stopped working.  A series of quick Google searches return the same answers over-and-over, which didn’t work!  The suggested answers were either to first hit Ctrl-A to highlight all the text on your document and then (a) go into File | Options | Proofing | make sure the “Hide spelling errors in this document only” checkbox is cleared (which it was); or (b) Review | Language | Set Proofing Language | and make sure the “Do not check spelling or grammar” checkbox was cleared (which I did).

do-not-check-spelling-checkboxThe issue still didn’t go away.  Most of the blog articles I reviewed didn’t say this, but it seems to me you need to close your Word document and re-open for either of these changes to take effect.  But if the problem is still not fixed, take another look at the key symptom which can be seen in the image to the left; that is the “Do Not Check Spelling…” checkbox is neither checked nor empty: and if you do try and clear it here — it will just revert back, and…you’ll still have the problem with Word 2013 spell check not working.  (That’s where I would recommend closing and re-opening your Word document.)




do-not-check-spelling-or-grammar-checkbox-in-the-styles-areaIf the above steps don’t work, then what I found to fix the problem is by going into the “Styles” area of Word, and drilling down to find where the culprit of this issue resides.  Go to Home | Styles area | right-click on the Style (e.g., Normal) and select “Modify…” | then Format and Language; and there you see it: make sure the “Do not check spelling or grammar” checkbox is cleared.  Click OK all the way back out, save your document, and then close and re-open Word.



  1. Thanks. Helped a lot.

  2. Helpful comments, but as a follow-up, I found that a particular document that had been submitted for publication by one of our contributors wouldn’t properly spellcheck, even when I had tried all of the above.

    As it turned out, the document had a lot of embedded Swedish text that had been copied from a Swedish source. The document therefore was recognized by Word 2013 as “Swedish.” Even when I had changed it to English (USA), it still wouldn’t spellcheck though, even with the above.

    The solution that I found was to make sure of everything mentioned above, including correcting, saving, closing, and then opening the document. But the final step that fixed it was then to CTRL-A to select the entire text, copy it, open a totally new blank document in Word 2013 (no templates), and paste the text into that new file. Save it under a new file name; close it, open it, and then try spellchecking. All should be well now.

    Dr. David W. Robinson
    Positive Feedback

  3. To fix it simply press CTRL+A and then SHIFT+F1. In the opened bar on the right side of the document, under the fonts section click on LANGUAGE and from the opened windows choose English (United States) as the default font, make sure that the ‘DO NOT CHECK SPELLING OR GRAMMAR’ is UNCHECKED, then click on set as default. You can now browse the entire document and look for spelling errors as it will be back working.

  4. Thanks for putting together this page – it let me return my document spellcheck to my original settings. I presume it’s a damned Windows update that jiggered the system in the first place. It took a good hour of faff to sort this problem out, and I feel Microsoft now owes me for the intellectual property value of what I could have written instead of wasting an hour searching the net for a workable fix.

  5. Thanks, this was exactly the issue I had and helped to resolve. Wasn’t good when you’re trying to produce legally reviewable documents!

  6. I fixed by just renaming the and relaunching MS Word

  7. Every time it’s different and at the end above settings didn’t help me. Some times I have only grammar then only spelling but more often nothing at all. using the Ctrl-A Shift-F1 option, by proofing language and file and settings. Tried to check the boxes restart word and then uncheck them and restart again. I hate it!

  8. Some times it works, but I don’t know what fixed it as I try many things and they don’t work on another document.

  9. I’ve got grammar underlines ( blue) to work by first selecting a different language and then returning to the language wanted. But still no red underline (spelling) yet. Even if the Hide option is unchecked. It makes me crazy. Why has it to be THIS difficult!? There are no differences between a document that has the spelling and on that doesn’t.

  10. I succeeded at last (it’s a real stress). I needed to do next steps:

    – open the document and select all text (Ctrl-A).
    – still with all text selected go to the Review-tab and select ‘Language -> Set proofing language …’ to another language and save as default.
    – close all word windows (saving the document).
    – re-open the document and select all text (Ctrl-A).
    – still with all text selected, go to the Review-tab and select ‘Language -> Set proofing language …’ to the one you want to use and save as default. Make sure both boxes are unchecked now (‘Do not check spelling or grammar’ & ‘Detect language automatically’).
    – go to the File-tab and select ‘Option -> Proofing’ and uncheck ‘Hide spelling errors in this document only’. For no apparent reason this is often checked. Also check that the ‘Hide grammar errors in this document only’ is unchecked. This is often already unchecked.

    Also, most of the times, it still doesn’t work and then clicking once on the ABC Spelling & Grammar button on the left in the Review-tab does the trick.

    I re-used this procedure several times successfully by now and also saved it in my troubleshooting for future use. It works like this, but what a mess!

  11. None of the above worked for me. In case it will benefit others, I’ll mention what our problem turned out to be. In options proofing I had “ignore words in uppercase” checked and, since our heading was all uppercase (a legal brief), it didn’t get checked.

  12. Thank you very much for your suggestion but neither that worked for me. In case this help for anyone the way I solved my issue was selecting the entire document then, file tab then, options next, proofing then, re-check document and clicking ‘Yes’ the dialog box.

  13. Thanks! This worked for me.

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