< Writing and editing with digital tools: Word's built-in tools

Writing and editing with digital tools

By Peter Hulm

Microsoft Word

These are the built-in facilities it offers.


I’m sure you know Microsoft Word has a dictionary that you can set to various languages in the same text. If you want to switch languages, for example, for a citation in French, highlight the text then in the Review ribbon choose Language|Set Proofing Language. The first option is to set the proofing language for the Selected Text. Choose French (and probably France) in this case.

Quick Access Toolbar

Should you find yourself using this option a lot, consider putting it into the Quick Access Toolbar.

How to add icons to the Quick Access Toolbar

If you write or edit for international organizations I suggest choosing U.K. English as your default language. It forms the basis of most U.N. organizations’ stylebooks, including the U.N. Editorial Manual, available online. The manual makes Word’s track changes facility for revisions one of its three options for editors submitting reports.

The online manual also indicates specific rules for formatting official documents, but the chances are you will not be working within these limitations, since many of the organization’s published texts are not strictly official. But the better you know the content of this manual, the easier you will find your editing or writing job.

Grammar checker

You should know that you can check grammar as you write by clicking the checkbox in the File|Options Proofing panel.

Word’s Readability Test

I also check the box to show readability statistics. But it only appears onscreen when you have completed your spellcheck. So I rarely get to the point where I use it.  I prefer another technique.

Word shortcuts

I suggest that you become familiar with the Word keyboard shortcuts for the facilities you use most. My suggestions.

Peter Hulm is a reporter, editor, translator and teacher based in Switzerland. Quick bio. stepwiser.net is his teaching website.