Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Extracting Proper Words.

Extracting Proper Words

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 18, 2019)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


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("A65536").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 (2834) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) 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

Hiding Graphics

Graphics are a great addition to a worksheet, but there may be times when you don't want them printed. The easy way to ...

Discover More

Understanding the PDF/A Format

Word allows you to save your documents in PDF format so others can easily view them. You may not know, however, that Word ...

Discover More

Calculating the First Tuesday

Do you need to figure out the date for the first Tuesday of any given month? Excel is incredibly flexible when it comes ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Resizing Checkboxes

If you create a user form in VBA that includes checkboxes, you may want to make the checkboxes larger. You can't adjust ...

Discover More

Combinations for Members in Meetings

Got a large group of people listed in a worksheet and you want to make sure that each person has met with every other ...

Discover More

Friendly and Informative Error Handling

When creating macros, it is helpful to know what is going on within the macro itself in case an error crops up. Here's ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 9?

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 menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon 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.