Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Extracting Proper Words.

Extracting Proper Words

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 25, 2018)

Vanita has a worksheet that contains different combinations of letters in each cell of column A. He is looking for a way to extract the words from that list that are "proper," meaning that they are found in a spell-check dictionary.

Assuming that the column contains only words (no spaces, punctuation, or phrases), you can manually check the list in this manner:

  1. Make a copy of column A into column B. You now have two identical columns.
  2. Select column B and run spell check.
  3. Every time a spelling change is suggested, accept it. When done, you should have column A as your original and column B as a spell-checked version of column A.
  4. In column C, enter the formula =IF(A1=B1,B1,"") and copy the formula down. This formula only shows a word in column C if the original word matches the spell-checked version of the word.
  5. Copy all the words in column C and use Paste Special to paste Values into another location. You now have a list of validly spelled words.

If you need to perform the validation process regularly, you may want to use a macro to instead create your final list. The following macro steps through the word list in column A and clears any cells that contain words not in the dictionary. After checking all the words, it then deletes all the cleared cells.

Sub ExtractDictionaryWords()
    Dim rWords As Range
    Dim rCell As Range

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False
    Set rWords = Range(Range("A1"), _
      Range("A1048576").End(xlUp))
    For Each rCell In rWords
        If Not Application.CheckSpelling(rCell.Value) Then
            rCell.Clear
        End If
    Next
    On Error Resume Next
    rWords.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlanks). _
      Delete (xlShiftUp)
    On Error GoTo 0
    Set rCell = Nothing
    Set rWords = Nothing
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

Remember—this macro is intentionally destructive in its behavior, meaning that it clears out cells. If you have any need for the original data, you'll want to run the macro on a copy of the data, not on your only copy.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11284) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Extracting Proper Words.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Highlighting Pattern Violations

A common part of working with text strings in a worksheet is normalizing those strings so that they follow whatever rules ...

Discover More

Better-Looking Full Justification for Paragraphs

If you want Word to justify paragraphs in the same way that it is done in WordPerfect, you'll want to apply the steps in ...

Discover More

Always Starting with a Blank Document

If you are using Word 2013 or Word 2016, you may have noticed that Microsoft changed what you see when you start the ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Understanding Functions in Macros

Functions are a common programming construct. They help you to create easy ways of processing information and returning a ...

Discover More

Selecting Columns in VBA when Cells are Merged

If you have a macro that selects different columns in a worksheet while processing information, you may get some ...

Discover More

Storing a User's Location before Running a Macro

Macros are often used to process information in a workbook. If your macro makes changes in what is selected in the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two more than 3?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.