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In this episode of the Trinka podcast, Dr. KK takes us through the options available in the Microsoft Word Spelling and Grammar Checker and how to customize them to suit your workflow, regardless of your research field. The aim is to help academic writers use this tool to its fullest potential, making it work right for them. Here, we'll explore the main points discussed in the episode.
The Trinka Podcast is hosted by Dr Krishna Kumar Venkitachalam, who prefers to be referred as Dr KK. He is a surgeon by qualification, but is very passionate about science, communication and languages. Also, he has been in the academic publication industry for the last 15 years.
Dr. KK starts by showing us how to find out which version of Microsoft Word you have. This is important because the options available vary across versions. She points out that she is working on a Macintosh computer with an Office 365 subscription and Word 365 version 16.69.1. While this might appear different on other operating systems, the point is to go under options or preferences in Microsoft Word and then select the spelling and grammar options.
Once you have found the options, you can explore and customize them to suit your needs. Dr. KK recommends having most of the options on, such as always suggest corrections, check spelling as you type, flag repeated words, frequently confused words, ignore internet and file path addresses, and ignore words with numbers. The latter is particularly useful for academic writers who deal with a lot of scientific documents that may have gene names with numbers or paths to databases that Word might flag as errors.
For those in niche fields, such as orthopaedic surgery, it may be useful to import a custom dictionary into Word. This ensures that Word does not flag words specific to your field as errors. You can import a custom dictionary from the internet or make one yourself.
Under advanced language settings, you can explore options for Latin-based languages that are not English. This is particularly useful if you deal with documents or are in regions that use these languages alongside English.
Dr. KK emphasizes the importance of having the "check grammar as you type" option on. This helps you catch errors as you make them, so you don't have to go back and spend time editing later. The "show readability statistics" option can also be helpful. There are typically two options for the grammar and refinement settings - a basic option and a more advanced option. While the basic option can be helpful, the more advanced option is often more thorough and offers a wider range of feedback. As the writer mentioned earlier, taking advantage of AI-based tools like these can help save time and improve the overall quality of writing.
To begin customizing the grammar and language check options, first, we need to access the settings pane dialogue box. This can be done by going to the "File" tab in Microsoft Word, selecting "Options," and then clicking on "Proofing."
Once you have accessed the settings pane dialogue box, you can customize the grammar and language check options by checking or unchecking the boxes next to each option. Microsoft Word provides many options related to capitalization, commas, date formatting, comparative use, incorrect auxiliary, and incorrect comma. You can scroll through the list and select the options that are most relevant to your needs.
It's essential to remember that when customizing the grammar and language check options, you should optimize the software for your specific research field or the work you are doing. If a particular option doesn't work for you, uncheck it to reduce noise and speed up your work.
As you scroll down the list, you will come across options related to simpler wording, double negation, passive voice, and more. These enhancements help improve the readability and clarity of your documents.
One of the most significant additions to the list of options is the inclusion of bias-related options. These options help identify and correct any potential biases in your document, including age bias, cultural bias, ethnic slurs, gender bias, gender-neutral pronouns, gender-specific language, racial bias, sexual orientation bias, and socioeconomic bias.
Other options include geopolitical references such as profanity, require punctuation, require with quotes inside or not, and space between sentences.
After you have customized the options, it's time to test them out. You can do this by creating a sample document with purposefully inserted errors. As you review the document, you will see different types of squiggly lines highlighting the errors. These lines indicate the type of error, allowing you to quickly identify and correct it.
Customizing the grammar and language check options in Microsoft Word is an excellent way to improve the accuracy and readability of your documents. By selecting the options that are most relevant to your needs, you can speed up your work and reduce noise. Testing the options with a sample document will help you identify any errors and ensure that your documents are error-free.