Can I override MS Word auto-correct for "Hawai'i"?

Here in Hawai’i there is a strong push to celebrate and preserve Hawaiian language. Part of that means being respectful of the way that Hawaiian words are written. The state “Hawaii” is actually supposed to be written “Hawai’i.” The apostrophe represents an okina, a glottal stop.

As I work for a local cultural center with “Hawai’i” in the name, I need to get it right in my communications. Alas, MS Word always changes “Hawai’i” to “Hawai’I” since it views the final “I” as probably being the first-person pronoun.

Is there a way for me to stop this without turning off auto-correct entirely?

Which Word version?

Apparently you can add and remove entries from autocorrect list:

Yeah, but since this isn’t an autocorrect of “Hawai’i”, but of “i”, and removing the automatic capitalization of "i"s elsewhere probably isn’t desireable, is there a way?

Will adding “Hawai’I” -> “Hawai’i” to the autocorrect set up an infinite loop? Or just not work consistently?

Immediately after the app does an auto-correction, you can type Control-Z (or Command Z) to un-do the correction. Of course, this is a one-time fix and you have to remember to do it every time you type Hawai’i.

Most apps rely on some dictionary by which to make spelling fixes. The dictionary isn’t necessarily part of the app itself, since many apps will do spell checking using the same dictionary.

Typically, there should be a way you can add your own words to that dictionary. Or, alternatively, it may be possible to have an auxiliary dictionary of your own where you can put specialized words you need to use (common for technical or scientific work, for example).

Clearly, these dictionaries and spell-checkers can deal with words with apostrophes in them, and they can work with words that are supposed to be capitalized. So, it ought to work if you add Hawai’i to the dictionary.

If you need to write Hawai’i a whole lot, you should even be able to define an auto-abbreviation so you could just type Hw or even just H and it will expand it to Hawai’i for you.

You say you are using MS Word. I’m only superficially familiar with that, but I’m pretty sure ALL of the possibilities I mention here are available in MS Word.

I just tried it with MS Word 2007. I see your dilemma. I fixed it by adding under AutoCorrect Options two different entries. I navigated from the Ribbon --> Word Options --> Proofing --> AutoCorrect Options --> AutoCorrect (tab). In the middle of the dialogue box, I entered in the Replace field “Hawai’I” (w/out the quotes) and in the With field “Hawai’i” then I repeated the process and entered in the Replace field “Hawai’i” and in the With field “Hawai’i”

That seems to have worked. Now when I type Hawai’i it neither corrects to Hawai’I nor underlines it as a mispelled word. I don’t know why I had to make two entries, but just the first entry didn’t fix the problem correctly.


I just did the same thing a few moments ago in Word 2007 and came back to see your post! Same results.


You really should install a Hawaiian language font as an apostrophe is not an okina and you still need the kahako to type Hawaiian words properly. Here’s a link that details how to install the Hawaiian language pack in Windows and Mac OS X. It still requires a few extra keystrokes, but better to do it the right way rather than halfway and get criticized for it.

In the early 2000’s, I worked on the website and mailers for a Hawaiian politician and since we couldn’t ensure the okina and kahako would properly display on everyone’s browser, we didn’t use any type of accents. However, for his print work the okina with proper placement and kahako were mandatory.

If you don’t want switch between the Hawaiian and English keyboard, you could keep a list of words on a desktop sticky note or notepad and cut and paste. Add words as you go along. Again, more work, but better than putting the okina or kahako in the wrong place because anyone picky enough to call for them would likely call you out for the misplacement.

Edit: The campaign manager for the politician I worked for was an expert on the Hawaiian language, and some accent placement looked odd to me, but I was told that what I sometime commonly saw was incorrect placement.

Use autocorrect. You can set it to type “Hawaii” and autocorrect it to Hawai’i".

See posts #5 and #6 above. :smiley:


Are you required to use MS Word? If not, you might find it easier to go in another direction altogether.

I use LibreOffice, and it does not have that particular auto-correct issue. It corrects a lower-case “i” by itself, but it recognizes that the final “i” in the state name is part of the word.

Thanks (or rather I should say "Mahalo as we do in Hawai’i), everybody. Personal’s suggestion worked - the navigation was a little different (I assume because I’m on a MacBook, which I didn’t specify in my OP) but it was easy to figure out. Now all I have to do is type Hawaii and it automatically changes it to Hawai’i.

lingyi, I was wondering if you might join this thread! I know that the apostrophe isn’t really an okina, but that seems to be a popular default around these parts so who am I to argue. Here’s the resource I use when I want correct Hawaiian diacritical marks: Hawaiian Keyboard Online LEXILOGOS. So far I’ve had no trouble with it - it automatically adopts the font and characteristics of the text I’m pasting into, so while it is a little unwieldy, it’s not too bad, especially when you use it all the time and are used to it.

there’s no “add to dictionary” option like in Grammarly?

It treats Hawai and i as two separate words, and I sure wouldn’t want to add “Hawai” to my dictionary. There might be a way to make it realize that Hawai’i is one word, but Im not going to look for it since my problem is now solved.

Aloha CairoCarol!

Glad to see your issue is solved. Youʻre doing one of the two things that I consider critical to living and getting alone in Hawaii. Respect the people and culture of all races and ethnicities, especially the true Hawaiians and respect the land, which Iʻm sure you do. Keep up the great work! Maybe someday weʻll meet and have some poke and poi together! :smiley:

Maybe we will sometime, lingyi!

Long as it’s on on Kuhio Ave or Maunakea St. at night! :wink:

J/K Sista CairoCarol!!

If you’re supposed to write it the Hawaiian way, then why are you using an apostrophe as opposed to a real okina? (The two glyphs look similar but not identical.)

See Post #13.