Sometimes you want to be careful to use gender-neutral words in your documents. Word’s grammar checker offers an option that will underline words that violate this gender neutrality with a green squiggly line, similar to what it does for sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
To ask Word to check for gender-specific terms such as policeman, follow the steps below:
- Click on the Office button.
- Choose Word Options from the bottom of the large dialog that opens.
- In the Word Options dialog, click on Proofing in the left-hand list.
- On the right-hand side, look for the When correcting spelling and grammar in Word section.
- Check the Check grammar as you type box and the Check grammar with spelling box, if they are not currently checked.
- In the Writing style drop-down menu, choose the Grammar only option.
- Click the Settings button by the drop-down menu.
- Word shows the Grammar Settings dialog box.
- You will find the Style section about half way down the dialog box.
- Check the option marked Gender-specific words.
- Click OK.
- Click the Recheck Document button (Word 2007) to find gender-specific words in your current document.
- Click OK.
- You can also click OK twice to return to your document without rechecking your document.
Now that should underline words that refer to a specific gender. It will not find him and her or he and she, but instead words that include a gender reference, such as policeman.
I say should because it doesn’t always work. It would be nice to have this feature as an option if it worked, but unfortunately it just isn’t happening this time around.