How to Check for Passive Voice in Microsoft Word 2010

A word processing program in today’s day and age needs to be more than just a basic text editor. It needs to have tools that allow you to add content from the Internet, it needs access to templates that make document creation easier, and it needs tools that can check your work for mistakes. Microsoft Word 2010 is an industry leader in word processing programs so, of course, it has all of these things. But not all of the settings that you might need are enabled by default, so you need to do some tinkering within the program to get it to operate that way that you want. Luckily it can check your document for instances of passive voice usage, and allow you to correct those before you submit the document to someone that could penalize you for using it. You can continue reading below to see how to use the passive voice checker in both Word 2010 and Word 2013.


Check for Passive Voice in a Word 2010 Document

There are many situations where a passive voice checker could come in handy, so it is a little surprising that it is not enabled in Word 2010 by default. It would be one thing if you needed to install a plug-in or add-on to gain that functionality, but it is built in. Luckily it is a simple matter to have the Spelling and Grammar checker look for passive voice, so you can simply follow the instructions below to include that search whenever you run the tool.


Step 1: Open Microsoft Word 2010.

Step 2: Click File at the top of the window, then click Options at the left side of the window. This opens a new window, titled Word Options.

click file, then click options

Open the Word Options window


Step 3: Click the Proofing option at the left side of the Word Options window.

click the Proofing option

Open the Proofing Options window


Step 4: Click the Settings button to the right of the Writing Style drop-down menu in the When correcting spelling and grammar in Word section. This opens a Grammar Settings window.

click the settings button

Open the Grammar Settings window


Step 5: Scroll down to the Style section of the Grammar Settings window, then check the box to the left of Passive sentences. While you are here, you can also check the boxes for any additional options for which you would like the checker to search.

how to check for passive voice in word 2010

Check the option to the right of Passive sentences


Click the OK button at the bottom of the Grammar Settings window, then click the OK button at the bottom of the Word Options window to close it and apply your changes.


How to Use the Passive Voice Checker in Word 2013

The method for enabling this feature is very similar in Word 2013 as it is in Word 2010.

Step 1: Launch Microsoft Word 2013.


Step 2: Click the File tab at the top-left corner of the window.

word 2013 file tab



Step 3: Click Options in the column at the left side of the window.

word 2010 options



Step 4: Click the Proofing tab.

word 2013 proofinh menu



Step 5: Scroll down and click the Settings button that is to the right of the Writing Style drop-down menu.

writing style settings



Step 6: Scroll down and click the box to the left of Passive sentences. Word will include a passive voice check with the Grammar & Spelling check if there is a check mark in that box.

passive voice checker in word 2013



You can then click the OK button at the bottom of each of the open windows to save and apply your changes.

Once you have configured the Spelling and Grammar checker, you simply need to run it on your document to locate any grammar or spelling mistakes, including the one that checks for passive voice. You can follow the instructions in this article to learn how to run the checker on your document.