Identify and Eliminate Passive Voice in Microsoft Word

Active Voice is Ideal for Effective Communication A previous article had promoted the use of active voice for persuasive communications. To summarize, sentences in passive voice (e.g., “Your feedback is appreciated,”) though grammatically correct, seem impersonal and obscure the responsibility of actions or feelings they convey. Sentences in active voice (e.g., ” I appreciate your feedback”) are simple, direct, persuasive, and easier to understand. See full article here.

You can use the ‘Grammar Check’ feature in MS-Word to identify and eliminate passive voice. To activate the check for passive voice, follow these three steps.

Identify and Eliminate Passive Voice in Microsoft Word

Step 1: Select ‘Tools’ from the ‘Options’ menu

Identify and Eliminate Passive Voice in Microsoft Word

Step 2: In the ‘Spelling & Grammar’ tab of the Options dialog box, enable the ‘Check grammar as you type’ and ‘Check grammar with spelling’ options. Select ‘Grammar & Style’ from the ‘Writing style’ drop down and click on the ‘Settings’ button.

Identify and Eliminate Passive Voice in Microsoft Word

Step 3: In the ‘Grammar Settings’ dialog box, enable the ‘Passive sentences’ under the ‘Style’ category. ‘OK’ and close all the dialog boxes.

Once you configure the check for passive sentences, MS-Word will squiggly-underline (in green color) most instances of passive sentences as illustrated below, just like it does squiggly-underline (in red color) spelling mistakes.

Identify and Eliminate Passive Voice in Microsoft Word

Clarity and ease-of-comprehension are two of the most important requisites to effective communication. Active voice can facilitate effective communication.


  1. Rob says

    The passive voice will make up the minority of most writing, but it can be powerful and forceful. Some famous examples:

    Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. (King James Bible, Isaiah 40:4)

    Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York. (Shakespeare’s Richard III, I.1, ll. 1–2)

    For of those to whom much is given, much is required. (John F. Kennedy’s quotation of Luke 12:48 in his address to the Massachusetts legislature, 9 January 1961.)[22]

    Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. (Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons, 20 August 1940.)

  2. Gayle Grant says

    This is no longer the case in MS Word 2016 as ALL grammar styles, including the ability to detect Passive Voice were ELIMINATED!!

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