Override autocorrect in Excel cells

As a microbial ecologist I often work with spreadsheets where I want to use the header “OTU” which means operational taxonomic unit. We use this acronym instead of saying species because the species concept for microbes is not very clear. Anyway, in Excel you can’t write “OTU” in a cell header because it autocorrects to “OUT”.

Of course this feature can be turned off or OTU can be added to the custom dictionary via the proofing options, however I found this did not work as expected. In MS word a good option is to press undo or type [ctrl]+[z] right after typing OTU, then it un-does the autocorrect. This does not happen in Excel. Another option I thought would work is to type a single quote at the beginning of the cell – this tells Excel to treat the cell as text and I expected it to disable the autocorrect feature but in fact it does not.


One quick and easy solution to Excel autocorrect Hell is to type your non-dictionary word (e.g. OTU) in a text editor like notepad, then copy and paste it in. This bypasses the autocorrect feature.