Spell checker

Updated: 05/01/2023 by Computer Hope
Spell check underlines

A software program or program feature designed to locate misspelled words and notify the user of the misspellings. Depending on the spell checker, the feature may autocorrect the word or allow users to select from potential corrections on the misspelled word. The picture is an example of wavy (squiggly) red underlines and how spelling errors in Microsoft Word are displayed. When running a spell check on a document with red color underlines, Word gives suggestions for each misspelled word. The red wavy underline can be right-clicked to display corrections on the misspelled word.

Although spell checkers have become one of the most commonly used features in many programs, they have also become a hindrance. Some people have become so dependent on spell checkers that their spelling and grammar skills have declined. They have difficulty writing anything correctly without the help of a computer.

How does a spell checker work?

The spell checker compares every word typed with thousands of correctly spelled words and then uses algorithms to determine the correct spellings. If a word (e.g., a name) is spelled correctly, you can add it to the program's exceptions list, so it's not flagged as misspelled.

How to access the spell checker


The F7 function key is the default keyboard shortcut key to start the spell check feature in Word and other programs with spell checking features.


In Google Docs, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+X to open the spell checker.


While spell checkers are a great feature, always proofread what you've written before hitting the send, print, or post button. A word may be spelled correctly but is not the word you intended to use.

Why should I spell check?

When writing an e-mail, letter, résumé, or any other document someone else will read, it's important to spell check. If others find grammatical or spelling errors, it's more likely it'll be rated poorly and not taken seriously.

Should I use "spellcheck" or "spell check" in my writing?

Although "spell check" is more common than "spellcheck" according to Google Trends, both versions are correct, and what version you use may depend on your style guide.

When used as a noun, you may describe a program's "spell check" or "spellchecker" feature. You may describe the "spellchecking" process performed on a document as a verb.

Aspell, AutoCorrect, Dictionary, Grammar checker, Proofreading, Thesaurus, Typo, Word processor, Word processor terms