How to find and rewrite instances of passive voice in your Microsoft Word documents

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Passive code is awkward and sometimes hard to understand. Let Word find your passive dependable contented and assistance you close it.

find-rewrite-passive-voice-wordImage: Swellphotography/Adobe Stock

You astir apt learned astir passive and progressive dependable during people schoolhouse grammar arsenic I did. In grammatical terms, progressive dependable has an explicit subject, portion the passive dependable taxable receives the enactment of the verb. We often talk successful passive voice, but you should usage progressive dependable erstwhile penning whenever possible. Active dependable has the vantage of being much succinct and understood.

Regardless of whether you’re penning a concern letter, method documentation, oregon the large American novel, usage progressive dependable unless you person a circumstantial crushed not to. In this tutorial, I’ll amusement you however Word finds instances of passive dependable successful your Word documents and helps you rewrite them arsenic active.

SEE: Windows, Linux, and Mac commands everyone needs to cognize (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

I’m utilizing Microsoft 365 connected a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you tin usage an earlier version. However, Word’s Editor is disposable lone successful Microsoft 365 and Word for the web. Editor is besides disposable arsenic a browser hold for Edge and Chrome. There’s nary objection file; you won’t request one.

What is passive voice?

Finding passive dependable successful your penning is astir apt easier than penning a elemental explanation for passive dependable without utilizing passive voice! In instances of passive voice, the auxiliary verb beryllium successful immoderate form, which includes are, and sometimes is, ever precedes the verb. An auxiliary verb is simply a verb utilized to signifier tense and temper with different verbs. One of the easiest ways to drawback passive dependable successful your penning is to tally a find task for the words beryllium and being. It won’t find everything, but it is simply a bully start.

That’s it for the grammar lesson. What matters the astir is that progressive dependable is engaging and, well, active. Passive dependable is often awkward and hard to understand. Now let’s look astatine a speedy illustration of both:

Humans are destroying the rainfall forest.

The rainfall wood is being destroyed by humans.

After speechmaking the abbreviated explanation of passive dependable above, you should beryllium capable to easy observe it successful the 2nd condemnation — “being destroyed” being the clue. When writing, we often gaffe into passive dependable without adjacent realizing it, and the existent obstacle is this: Humans person trouble proofing their ain work. It’s not a question of intelligence, but alternatively our physiology. Our brains cognize what we meant to accidental and erstwhile proofing, our encephalon tends to work what we meant alternatively than what we wrote. Most of america request a 2nd brace of eyes to drawback mistakes we can’t drawback ourselves. This is wherefore I person an editor, adjacent though I’ve been penning astir of my big life.

Now let’s larn however to observe passive dependable erstwhile penning successful Word.

How to usage Word to find passive voice

If utilizing Microsoft 365, you person a caller editing diagnostic — Editor. It’s an upgrade to spell check. To entree it, property F7, conscionable arsenic you would successful earlier versions to trigger spell check. Editor is connected the Home tab successful Word for the web.

Editor opens with a archetypal reading. The 80% people isn’t horrible, but ticker what happens erstwhile I alteration Format Writing to Casual (Figure A).

Figure A

WordPassiveVoice_AImage: Susan Harkins/TechRepublic. Execute Microsoft 365’s caller Word Editor.

To spot what’s near to fix, click Clarity — it lists 1 issue. Doing truthful volition prime the passive condemnation shown successful Figure B.

Not lone does Editor item the sentence, but it besides offers an progressive dependable alternative. Click the correction to regenerate the passive condemnation with Editor’s progressive sentence. Editor volition proceed to item passive sentences until you person corrected them all.

You tin ever click the Ignore Once enactment if the passive condemnation is the champion mode to accidental thing — it seldom is, but you bash person that option.

Figure B

WordPassiveVoice_BImage: Susan Harkins/TechRepublic. Word Editor finds passive voices.

Let Editor assistance you amended your penning by uncovering passive dependable sentences. But you mightiness beryllium wondering however it knows to cheque for passive voice.

How to alteration the hunt for passive dependable successful Word

If Editor isn’t uncovering passive voice, it’s imaginable that this enactment is disabled successful your transcript of Word. Do the pursuing to cheque this option:

  1. Click the File tab and take Options.
  2. Click Proofing successful the near pane.
  3. In the Correcting Spelling and Grammar successful Word section, look for the Writing Styles dropdown shown successful Figure C.
  4. Choose Grammar and past click Settings.
  5. In the resulting dialog, take Grammar Settings from the Writing Style dropdown (it shouldn’t beryllium necessary).
  6. In the Clarity section, cheque some Passive Voice and Passive Voice with Unknown Action (Figure D).
  7. Click OK twice.

Figure C

WordPassiveVoice_CImage: Susan Harkins/TechRepublic. Click the Writing Styles dropdown and take Grammar.

Figure D

WordPassiveVoice_DImage: Susan Harkins/TechRepublic. Enable some passive dependable options.

Once you alteration the passive dependable settings, Word volition show a bladed bluish squiggly enactment nether passive dependable making them easier to spot and hole immediately.

Editor seems a spot dilatory connected occasion. If you click an enactment and thing happens, adjacent it and effort again.

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