The Thin Red (squiggly) Line (and how to avoid it)

March 4, 2013

This isn’t strictly related to caddisflies, but might be of interest to those who write about them, and any other freshwater macroinvertebrate groups.

If, like me, you are tired of all those little red squiggly lines appearing in Microsoft Word every time you type a freshwater species name and having to check them all to see if they are actually spelt wrong or it’s just that Word doesn’t recognise them, then this post should be of interest to you. Based on the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) Code List for recording macroinvertebrates in Fresh Water in the British Isles, I have created a Custom Dictionary for use in Word that will recognise freshwater macroinvertebrate species names and higher taxa. (Hopefully the CEH is alright with this).

Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t allow me up upload the dictionary file type (.dic) for download, so if you want the easy way to do this then e-mail me and I will send on the .dic file and all you have to do is follow the steps in this YouTube video for MS Word 2010. (It’s actually for using a medical dictionary, but the steps are the same).

Alternatively you can download the Word file CEH_October2011_JB and follow the steps below for Word 2010.

  1. Open Word. Go to File\Options\Proofing\Custom dictionaries. Click ‘New’ and name your new dictionary. Click ‘Save’. Note the file path to your new dictionary (something like C:\Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof. You may have to go into the Control Panel\Folder Options and make Hidden folders visible to get here).
  2. Follow the file path and open your newly created dictionary and copy in all the words from the CEH_October2011_JB file and save.
  3. In File\Options\Proofing make sure the box ‘Suggest from main dictionary only’ under the heading ‘When correcting spellings in Microsoft Office programs’ is not ticked.

The steps differ somewhat for the various versions of Word, so if you don’t have Word 2010, then I’m afraid you’ll have to get on Google Search and find the right steps for you.

NB: While autocorrect and spellcheck are great tools, they are not fool-proof, so you would, of course, be well-advised to run through your species names just to be sure, but hopefully this will speed things up.

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