How to improve your writing skills with Microsoft Editor

Get to know Microsoft Editor and boost your writing

Writing on a laptop computer

Microsoft Editor is a brand new grammar and spelling checker that goes way beyond previous features, analysing your writing and suggesting many improvements. Use it free in Word web app.

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Microsoft Word has had spelling and grammar checking for decades and while it has received some improvements, they have been quite minor and for the most part, it has remained mostly unchanged.

Now the spelling and grammar checker has received a major upgrade. In fact, it is a completely new and it works in a different way to what you are used to. Words and phrases are still underlined as you write, but not there is a whole panel dedicated to an analysis of your writing and there are a lot of suggestions for improvements.

Microsoft Editor is the new spelling and grammar checker in Word and the best part is that it works in the free Microsoft Word web app. All you need to write documents, reports, notes, letters and even ebooks, is available in the Word web app for free.

Word and many other Microsoft Office applications are available either by going to onedrive.com or office.com in a web browser. The operating system makes no difference and you can create Word, Excel and other documents in Windows, macOS or even in Linux. You just need an up-to-date web browser.

See all work-related and Microsoft Office articles

1 Show Microsoft Editor

Create a new document in the Word web app at onedrive.com or office.com and enter some text. The more the better and it will not work unless there is sufficient text. Better still, load a document you have already written.

Microsoft Word web app Editor menu
Microsoft Word web app at onedrive.com

Click Review to show the toolbar and the first item is Microsoft Editor. Only the icon is shown if the browser window is narrow, but if it is wide enough, the word Editor appears in the toolbar. Click the down arrow for a menu and select Editor. We will look at the Edit Settings later.

2 View Editor summary and problems

An Editor panel appears on the right side of the document and at the top is the number of corrections and refinements. They are not automatically applied and these are the numbers of suggestions. They can be ignored if you choose, but it is best to check them out.

The Editor panel in Microsoft Word web app
Microsoft Editor analyses the document for problems

Corrections are the most serious problems and they are divided into Spelling and Grammar. These should be reviewed and changes should be made to the document. Refinements are suggestions that may be useful, but you might want to ignore them sometimes.

Formality, for example, is one that is up to you. Word does not know who you are writing for and whether the tone of the writing should be formal or informal. Should you use don’t and won’t or do not and will not? It depends on your audience and there is no right or wrong.

There are a total of nine sections, don’t forget the Uncommon words section at the bottom.

3 Check and correct your writing

Click each of the items, like Spelling, Grammar, Clarity, Conciseness, Formality and so on. Each item works in an identical manner and the the first occurance of a problem in the article is shown underlined and a box appears below it with several items.

Correcting a problem with the Editor in Microsoft Word web app
Click each item in Editor for suggestions

There is a brief explanation at the top of the box and this is followed by suggestions. With a spelling error, the right spelling or several alternative words are shown. With Formality, it suggests changing words like don’t to do not, and so on. With Clarity, it suggests alternative ways of saying things that are clearer.It is up to you whether you accept the changes. Click the suggestion if you want it or click Ignore to ignore this item.

Move through the document from problem to problem by clicking the < and > arrows in the bottom right corner of the pop-up box.

Update: Everything used to work, but the Refinements section is now limited to Microsoft Office subscribers. You just get Spelling and Grammar sections for free.

4 Check the document statistics

Down near the bottom of the Editor panel on the right is Stats. This shows the readability score and low numbers mean the text is hard to read, and high numbers mean it is easy to read. As a rough guide, you should aim for a score of between 60 and 70.

Microsoft Word Editor showing the document statistics panel
See document statistics in Microsoft Editor

The Distinct words are the number of unique words and a higher number indicates a larger vocabulary. It is less important than readability.

The time to read the document and the time to speak it is shown. This is useful if you are writing for a speech or presentation and it gives you an idea of how long it will last.

Spelling and Grammar settings

There are several settings that affect the spelling and grammar checkers and the Editor in the Microsoft Word web app. Select the Review tab and click the down arrow next to Editor in the toolbar (see the first screenshot).

Settings for Microsoft Editor in the Word web app

There are Editor settings and these enable you to choose the type of problems the grammar checker looks for. You may as well enable them all, even if you don’t use some. You can always skip the items in the Editor panel that you don’t need.

Word web app autocorrect options

Also on the menu is AutoCorrect options. I need to keep text plain and simple for the web, but there are options to replace fractions with the fraction character, replace quotes with proper quotes, and so on. Capitalizing the first letter of sentences is useful, except when you write about the iPhone and it gets changed to IPhone. That’s why I have it turned off.

Word web app language settings

There are many languages and many versions of some languages. English, for example, comes in many versions that affects spelling and grammar. Click in the document and press Ctrl+A (PC) Cmd+A (Mac) to select all the text . Click the Review tab, click the down arrow next to Editor and select Set Proofing Language (see first screenshot). Select the appropriate language.

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