RAYMOND OGLESBY @RaymondOglesby2
May 26, 2022
Microsoft Word has a ‘profanity’ check to warn you about rude, offensive, or swear words in some places. In others, the same word will not get any special marking. This feature can be helpful in a work environment that is using Microsoft. We will explain how to set up and use Microsoft Word’s Profanity Check, then show its limitations and traps.
This is for Microsoft Word 365, Outlook 365, and parts of Microsoft Office 365
Note! We will be discreet in this article but the topic means there’s plenty of blurred text or Asterix. Please do not proceed if you might be offended.
Word’s Profanity Check
Modern Word has an optional profanity check that’s supposed to warn about rude, offensive, obscene, or bad words.
First, open Word and navigate to:
File > Options > Proofing > Grammar and refinements > Settings
Refer to the below image:
Next, scroll down to the bottom. Under Vocabulary look for the Profanity option, and checkmark it. When finished, click OK. Click OK again to exit. See the below image:
How the Feature is Suppose to Work
Now, when Word ‘sees’ a profane word, it adds a blue dotted line. Click on the word to see an explanation This language may be offensive to you. See the following image:
Next, choose Ignore to remove the dashes. Click the Speaker icon at the right to hear the word and sentence.
That’s how it’s supposed to work but there’s more to it in the real world.
How the Feature Really Works or Not
Word’s Profanity check mostly works only for lower case words. Anything with a Capital letter is usually ignored. For us, this is a huge drawback to the feature. Refer to the below image:
Microsoft’s Value Judgements
One person’s plain speaking is another’s profanity.
We were intrigued that ‘ass’ is not marked as an offensive word while ‘damn’ is. Apparently, Microsoft decided to err on the side of caution, for whatever that is worth.
Use of Capital Letters
In a similar way to some of the other Grammar and refinements checks, most words starting with a Capital letter are ignored.
As you can see, that’s not consistent. We can not explain why two words on the list above are marked as ‘profane’ regardless of capitalization but others do not.
Word’s grammar checks, etc, treat most capitalized words like proper nouns, so it ignores them. Of course, that makes no sense if the word starts a sentence, but that’s a distinction Word does not make. Word does have some contextual spell checking but that’s not been extended to Profanity and other grammar checks.
Here are three examples of s**t to demonstrate that only the lower-case word is marked as ‘offensive’. See the below image:
A Judgment Call
Do not just rely on Word’s Profanity test (among others) so that there are no ‘naughty words’ in your documents or emails.
As you can see, there are limits to what Word will detect.
- Capitalized words are almost always ignored.
- Words with multiple meanings are always ignored with no consideration of the context.
This post is courtesy of Office Watch.
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