George RR Martin and the DOS

WordI have a DOS operating system at home.  I know the redundancy of saying a Disk Operating System Operating System, but DOS is its name, despite it having an acronym.  I do like using it, it takes me back to a days when computing was simpler but also more complex at the same time, viruses were propagated by the sharing of floppies, spyware and malware were words not invented and despite there being some issues it often just worked.

So why am I writing about this and George RR Martin using DOS, well why, DOS was decent for 1992 but we have moved on and not just for the worst, see below;

‘Game of Thrones’ author George RR Martin has explained why he does all his writing on an obsolete disk operating system (DOS) computer – because it does not correct his spelling.

BBC – BBC – Wed May 14 23:45:00 UTC 2014

His reason for it and using WordStar was it never corrected his spelling.  I can relate to what, when writing novels using modern word processors they are trying to correct everything, spelling, grammar, improper word usage.  Now some of these features have been a god send in some ways, but the auto correction item sometimes makes sentences like “As I pushed my hands into the earth I knew I belonged on the Earth.” so, it is difficult for applications to know which context is what, as a reader we can work these out. 

So, for you George RR Martin, move into the realm of modern computing (I know your internet machine is) but there is much more that Word 2013 can offer than WordStar.  I know what it is used to but this is a nice tip anyway.

Click the File Tab and click Options


This opens Words options.  Under there is proofing which is where all the spell checking happens, so I will go through these options to help enlighten how they work and then, how to turn it off and turn your Microsoft Word 2013 into a sometimes less annoying application, at least when it comes to spelling.

When correcting spelling in Microsoft Office programs

These items are some exceptions to the general spelling rules.

Ignore words in UPPERCASE – Simply put, when you write acronyms, etc… like DOS, the spell checker will simply ignore the word as it knows you are possibly referring to an acronym.  Uncheck it and you will see those pesky words you have typed in uppercase to have the red squiggly lined under them.

Ignore words that contain numbers – Numbers within words, why would ne1 would want to do that?  Yes, we have started to become a society of abreviations for words that really don’t need them, thx to the texting generation or now the Twitter generation where getting the words out for what you had for breakfast might put you over the 144 character limit.

Ignore internet and file addresses – Type a URL or URI which can and often does have words that are not real, (This is made up, well maybe I haven’t checked it).  So, we can see that whereismyworld is not a proper word and Word would rightly flag it so, unless you using the http:// or the file: qualifiers to state what comes next.

Flag repeated words – Handy in much of my writing, who, who indeed, has not had this problem when they need to use two words in a row, Wagga Wagga and Mullem Mullem are examples, certainly in Australian Aboriginal lexicon. 

Enforce accented uppercase in French – There are words in the French language that their definition is different between one spelling and another and the difference to them is merely an accent character.   Remember the option of ignoring uppercase words, well this above will mean if you want to talk about “The sign above their head read CURE.”, well this would not be right since our intrepid heroes, being in France, are looking, not for a cure but a priest, which is, “The sign above their head read CURÉ”.  There are many different words that are like this but in Word this is often used with French (Canadian) selected (and is defaulted too).


Suggest from main dictionary only – Simple, any custom words you have added will not be included when you right click the word and it shows the suggestions available.   Unsure where you would want this, I guess to use within an enterprise who do not want people getting around spelling mistakes by using custom dictionaries to add words.

Custom Dictionaries – Opens a dialog that enables you to include any dictionary you want.  You can look up Medical dictionaries, legal ones, computing ones and so on.  You might have free ones, but many might be pay.  But this is where you would add any new or custom dictionaries you want to include.

AutoCorrect options

This is the area that Mr. Martin didn’t want to  do, and thankfully for him you can turn a lot of these off.  Sick of having those (c) being turned into © or worse.  Each of these can be turned off, like all options.  Though the AutoCorrect feature is handy, especially when it comes to words I just have trouble typing properly.

Show AutoCorrect Options buttons – These are handy options that will initially display as a small underline, then as you hover a drop down button appears with some options to reverse the change, turn off this auto correct or go to the AutoCorrect options.

Correct TWo INitial CApitals – This is a handy feature I must say, it happens a bit just because I am not a touch typist so I might just hold the shift key down a little longer than needed and then I have hit the next key.

Capitalise first let of sentences – Says what it does.  When typing a new sentence, which is the start of a new paragraph or the first word following a full stop.  It will automatically capitalise the word for you.

Capitalise first letter of table cells –  Like the sentence one, this will look at the first word of a table cell to need to be capitalised.

Capitalise names of days – Monday, tuesday, wednesday and so on, these days of the week and proper nouns and therefore need to be capitalised.

Correct accident usage of cAPS LOCK key – This one fixes the mistake of you hitting the caps lock key, and continuing you writing and will also turn the caps lock key, off.


Each of these options can be turned off, and it will no longer correct anything for you automatically.

When correcting spelling and grammar in Word

These options are for the spell and grammar checking in Microsoft Word.  Once again, each of these can be turned off if you do not want to even see your mistakes.

Check spelling as your type – This will show that red squiggly line under the mistake.  When this came in, with Microsoft Word 95 (I believed I saw it in Word 6.0 but I could be wrong). Was a real step forward in the spelling mantra of word processors, and you now see it all over the place.  In the later versions of web browsers that are now including these same marks to enable you to see the mistakes in web pages.  Don’t want to see them, then turn them off.

Mark Grammar errors as you type – Once again when this was introduced into Word it was an external application they bought and then integrated it into Word.  It didn’t work well when first introduced as it would often not pick up the different spelling of words based on the context they’re used in.   But this can be annoying in some respects but it shows a blue squiggly line when it detects and issue, so, turn it off and you will not know how grammatically correct your sentences is or isn’t.  This is annoying when it comes to a sentence fragment.  I like them.

Frequently confused words – There are words that are often confused.  Which words, well my mind pours over this poorly written work to know it isn’t the paws of a cat causing this nor is it the pore within my skin.  That is a poor example, but you get the point.  It is supposed to determine the context and which word would go there, or was it their, or they’re, who knows, well I do and most of the time, Word does too, or to.  Damn.

Check grammar with spelling – Remember once upon a time, you would click F7 and you would them be displayed a dialog.


Yes that is the one.  Though it did look different, and it shows you the work, selects it and shows you the options.  Once, this was the ONLY way to check the spelling in your documents.  I would be curious to know, who still uses the F7 key to check spelling. 

Granted now, I can get definitions and hear how it is pronounced, if you haven’t hear it before.  But times have changed since the humble spelling and now grammar dialog.

Show readability statistics – I know what this does, but I don’t.  Off the bat it tells me if the sentence I have written or even that matter the document will provide too much for the person clasping their eyes, trying to make sense of this madness, written before them, or if it is too easy and maybe the difficulty needs to be ramped up.

It shows the number of words and the like, but the what determines the Flesch Reading Ease or Flesch-Kincaid Grade level mean something, mostly I am sure Flesch and Kincaid.  But if these are important you can see this after using F7 and everything is checked and complete.

Writing Styles – If you use the grammar checker then this will be of some benefit.  If you understand the differences with all of the variations of sentence style or grammar then you will be more at home in this dialog. 

The dialog shows all of the different forms of grammar and then writing style that can be checked in your document.  But since you can turn off grammar checking, this might not be of to much interest if you have the check grammar with spelling turned off. 

I don’t think I will go through these options and tell you the difference between Passive sentences and wordiness. 

Now, if all of these options are too much for you to bear that is OK, baring all like this will help.  But you can also not care and turn them off, or just hide them in your current document. 

So for Mr. Martin, turn off Check text as your type, check spelling as your type and check grammar as you type and you will not be bothered with any of the issues that make you want to use the old DOS WordStar.  If there was grammar checking in this Live Writer, I think what I have written here would possibly break all the rules of any grammar checker.

Just for reference, turn it on in Word will make it look like;


Too many squiggly lines if you ask me.  Perhaps George is onto something.


Posted on May 15, 2014, in Article, Tips and Tricks and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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