How to Use Google Docs Spell Check

Spelling and grammar correction from single words to entire documents

Google Docs includes a built-in way to check for spelling and grammar mistakes. You can know right away through colored squiggly lines whether something is spelled incorrectly or if it needs a push in a different direction to make more sense grammatically.

If a word isn’t spelled right, a red line appears below it, while a blue line is used for grammar mistakes. Even if you’ve disabled automatic checks, there’s a tool you can use to check the entire document at once, and you have full control over what gets corrected and what’s kept as is.

These directions work on the Google Docs desktop site for all operating systems and on the mobile app for Android. The app for iOS and iPadOS can’t check for grammatical errors or misspellings, but you will get basic suggestions if your iPad keyboard is set up correctly.

How to Use the Desktop Google Docs Spell Check

One way to use the spelling and grammar checker is to have suggestions turn up automatically as you type. This is a great way to keep the document fresh with correct spellings as you work.

  1. Go to Tools > Spelling and grammar.

  2. Select Show spelling suggestions and/or Show grammar suggestions.

    Spell check options in Google Docs.

     

  3. Return to the document and select one of the red or blue words or phrases to see what Google Docs recommends as a fix, and then select it to accept the suggestion.

    Spelling and grammar mistakes in Google Docs.

You can ignore recommendations by selecting X. If this is happening a lot for the same word but you don’t want to change the spelling, add it to your personal dictionary. See the steps at the bottom of this page for help.

The other method is to use a click-through wizard. This is the preferred way to use the Google Docs spell checker if you’re working in a multi-page document with several spelling and grammar suggestions:

  1. Put the cursor wherever you want to start the spell check. If you’re looking through the whole document, make sure you’ve selected the very top left position before any words.

  2. Go to Tools > Spelling and grammar > Spelling and grammar check.

  3. Choose Accept or Ignore for the first suggestion to move to the next one, or use the arrows to jump to a different instance.

    Spell check suggestion box in Google Docs.

    As handy as spelling and grammar checks are, they're not flawless. If several words are missing in a sentence, for example, and Google Docs can’t suggest a fix, it might not tell you that something is wrong even though it’s an incoherent sentence.

  4. Continue until you’ve corrected or ignored all of the suggested changes.

How to Spell Check Google Docs in the Mobile App

Grammar and spell checks are available through the Google Docs app for Android as well:

  1. Tap the edit/pencil icon.

  2. Select where you want the spell check to start.

  3. Use the three-dotted menu at the top right to choose Spellcheck. Note that this includes the grammar check tool as well.

  4. The new window at the bottom of the screen is used to Change or Ignore the suggestions.

    Google Docs spell check on Android.
  5. Select the checkmark at the top left to save and exit the editing mode.

Use Your Personal Dictionary to Edit How Spell Check Works

Spell check can quickly become annoying if it repeatedly reports a bad spelling for a word that you’re intentionally spelling that way. Equally, there may be words that you’re sure are spelled wrong but Google Docs doesn’t tell you about them.

The solution here, in both cases, is to make the necessary change to your personal dictionary. This is available through the desktop site only.

  1. Go to Tools > Spelling and grammar > Spelling and grammar check.

  2. Select the three-dotted menu button on the bottom right.

  3. Choose Add “[word]” to dictionary to force Google Docs to quit marking it as being spelled incorrectly. To remove words from this list so that they’ll once again be seen as wrong, select View personal dictionary and then choose the trash icon next to the word.

    Customizing the personal dictionary in Google Docs.
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