Although all word processing applications have similar capabilities in terms of editing and formatting, Microsoft Word has several advanced capabilities. These capabilities provide special tools to assist the writer. These tools are the thesaurus, research, spell check, and grammar check. Together, they help the writer perform a significant part of the revision process.
The Microsoft Word thesaurus provides synonyms for the selected text (Microsoft Corporation, 2008). The thesaurus is most useful during the revision phase of writing. When reviewing the document, the writer might find that the word choice is not appropriate, or does not quite convey the intended tone. In this case, the thesaurus tool can help the writer find a more appropriate selection.
The research tool provides the writer with direct access to the Encarta Encyclopedia and related reference material. The tool uses an interface similar to most web search engines and is designed with ease of use in mind. Although the research tool provides an excellent pool of information, it should not replace the writer’s normal research process.
The Microsoft Word spell check tool can be used to ensure all words within a document are spelled correctly. When the spell checker finds a word that is misspelled, it checks in its dictionary for word with similar spellings (Microsoft Corporation, 2008). It is important to know that the spell checker can only find words that are misspelled according to its dictionary. If a typo makes it into the spell checker dictionary, or a word is spelled correctly but misused, the Microsoft Word spell checker will not see the mistake.
The final advanced Microsoft Word capability is the grammar checker. Microsoft (2008) claims the grammar checker looks for the most common grammatical errors via a comprehensive natural language analysis of the text. For example, the Microsoft Word grammar checker will find all instances of passive voice in the document. Although this tool is valuable to the user, it must be used judiciously. Finding grammatical mistakes is important, but it is equally important that the writer’s voice and tone not be lost while trying to correct mistakes found by the tool.
Together these four advanced capabilities of Microsoft Word provide powerful revision tools for the writer. The ability to check for mistakes in spelling and grammar, coupled with the ability to find synonyms is extremely useful. The addition of the research tool to provide additional information during the revision phase cannot be overlooked. Although these tools should provide the only revision for a document, they are useful as a first pass over a document that is ready to be revised.
Microsoft Corporation. (2008.) About spelling, grammar, and the thesaurus. Retrieved July 28, 2008.