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#31 Checking Spelling

InDesign's spelling checker is incredibly sophisticated. You can check anything from a text selection to multiple documents, check against spelling dictionaries in most major languages, customize the spelling dictionaries, and more. In addition to flagging words that do not appear in its dictionaries, InDesign also flags duplicated words and possible capitalization errors. We have to warn you, though, that the spelling checker is not foolproof. It doesn't know what words you intended to use—there, their, or they're—and it doesn't understand context. When making decisions about possible misspelled words, it's best if you work with a copy editor or proofreader.

Running a Spelling Checker

You can check spelling in selected text, to the end of a story, in an entire story or document, and in all open documents. If you want to check a limited amount of text, you need to first prepare the document by highlighting a range of text with the Type tool, clicking within a story to check it from that point forward, or selecting a text frame to check the entire story.

To check spelling, choose Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling. Choose an option from the Search menu to specify the scope of the spelling checker: All Documents, Document, Story, To End of Story, or Selection. When a word displays in the field at the top of the dialog box ( Figure 31a ), handle it as follows:

  • If you think the word is spelled incorrectly: Select a word in the Suggested Corrections list or enter the correct spelling in the Change To field. Then, click Change to fix the first instance of the word or click Change All to fix all instances of the word without reviewing them first.
  • If the word is spelled correctly: Click Skip to continue to check spelling. If you know the word is used multiple times in the document and you don't want to click Skip each time, click Ignore All.
03_31a.jpg

Figure 31a The Check Spelling dialog box helps you find the correct spelling for words.

The Check Spelling dialog box is actually a palette, so you can jump into the document and edit the text without closing it. When you're finished checking spelling, click Done.

Customizing the Dictionary

If we know anything about a spelling checker, we know that it's not infallible. For one thing, the dictionary rarely recognizes all the unique words in your content, including the names of people, places, brands, foods, and more. If you frequently work with the same content—and are constantly skipping or ignoring the same words—you can add those words to the document's dictionary or to your user dictionary. Customizing the dictionary not only results in fewer flagged words, but it also helps ensure that you don't spell proper names wrong.

You have two options for customizing the dictionary:

  • While you're in the Check Spelling dialog box, click Add. The word in the field is added to the dictionary listed in the Add To field. By default, this is your user dictionary, but you can choose to add the word to a dictionary that is unique to the active document. If the word requires specific capitalization—such as "LoDo," the abbreviation for Denver's Lower Downtown neighborhood—make sure Case Sensitive is checked when you click Add.
  • Choose Edit > Spelling > Dictionary (or click Dictionary in the Check Spelling dialog box). In the Dictionary dialog box ( Figure 31b ), choose whether to edit the user dictionary or the document dictionary from the Target menu. Enter correctly spelled words in the Word field, check or uncheck Case Sensitive, and then click Add.
    03_31b.jpg

    Figure 31b The Dictionary dialog box lets you customize the user dictionary or the document's dictionary.

To edit words in the dictionary, select the word and click Remove. Then retype the word in the Word field and click Add.

Setting Spelling Preferences

By default, the InDesign Check Spelling command flags words that it thinks are misspelled, words it thinks should be capitalized, and duplicate words. If this results in too many flagged words, you can customize Check Spelling in the Spelling panel in the Preferences dialog box. The check boxes work as follows:

  • Misspelled Words flags words that do not match words in the current language dictionary.
  • Repeated Words flags duplicate words such as "in in."
  • Uncapitalized Words flags words that are capitalized in the dictionary but not in the document.
  • Uncapitalized Sentences flags lowercase words following a period, exclamation point, or question mark.

You might, for example, uncheck Uncapitalized Words and Uncapitalized Sentences if a design-intensive document uses all lowercase for effect.

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