Word: What are the blue squiggly lines?July 5, 2010
With Word 2007 came the blue squiggly underline. So far I’ve found two purposes for it:
- To indicate a word that may be incorrect in the context of its surrounding words (e.g. you write ‘weather’ and, based on the other words, Word thinks that you really meant to write ‘whether’).
- To show formatting inconsistencies.
By right-clicking on the word with the blue squiggly line, you can find out which type it is — if you get the option to change the word to another, then you have the contextual type; if you get the option to replace the formatting with a style (as shown below), then you have the second type.
The rest of this post deals with the blue squigglies associated with formatting inconsistencies.
If you’ve never seen the blue squigglies that means one of two things — either you don’t have any formatting inconsistencies (hmmm… a perfect Word document?), OR you haven’t checked the box to show them (much more likely).
Here’s how to show them:
- Click the Microsoft Office button .
- Click Word Options.
- Click Advanced on the left.
- Scroll down to the Editing options section.
- Select the Mark formatting inconsistencies check box (if this check box is grayed out, select the Keep track of formatting check box first).
- Click OK.
When you’ve finished checking and fixing the inconsistencies, consider turning off both check boxes again. Personally, I turn off Keep track of formatting as I’m not sure of any advantages in keeping it turned on while I’m writing a document — it’s very handy when I’m editing, but I’m not sure whether it’s a help or hindrance when writing.
BTW, I haven’t played with this Mark formatting inconsistencies much, but the little testing I did do with it didn’t show up things I expected it show. Does anyone know what ‘rules’ Microsoft uses to determine whether something is formatted inconsistently or not? I couldn’t figure it out from my short tests. If you do know, please share below in the Comments.