How to Add and Use Custom Dictionaries in Microsoft Word

488269 How to Add and Use Custom Dictionaries in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word comes with an extensive dictionary that catches many spelling and grammar mistakes. However, you may find yourself repeatedly needing to add industry-specific terminology, names, or uncommon words. Rather than ignoring the red squiggly line each time, you can add these words to a custom dictionary.

Custom dictionaries allow you to store specialized vocabularies that Microsoft Word will reference when spell checking your documents. This prevents Word from flagging correct words as errors. With custom dictionaries, you can optimize spell check to suit your writing needs.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn:

  • How to access the Custom Dictionaries dialog box
  • How to manually edit an existing custom dictionary
  • How to create new custom dictionaries
  • How to add third-party custom dictionaries
  • How to activate and deactivate custom dictionaries

Accessing the Custom Dictionaries Dialog Box

The first step is accessing the dialog box where you manage custom dictionaries. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the File tab and click Options.
  2. Click Proofing on the left.
  3. Click the Custom Dictionaries button.

This will open the Custom Dictionaries dialog box.

By default, you’ll see an existing custom dictionary called CUSTOM.DIC. This is Word’s default dictionary where any manual word additions get stored.

Custom dictionaries dialog box

You can have multiple custom dictionaries active at once. The steps below cover how to add words to existing dictionaries as well as create new specialty dictionaries.

Manually Editing a Custom Dictionary

To manually add words to or remove words from a custom dictionary:

  1. Open the Custom Dictionaries dialog box using the steps above.
  2. Select the dictionary you want to edit.
  3. Click the Edit Word List button.

This will open a dialog box for editing that dictionary. Here you can:

  • Manually type words into the Word(s) box and click Add after each one.
  • Select words in the main word list and click Remove.
  • Click OK when finished editing to save changes.

By default, any words you manually add through the spell checker will save to the CUSTOM.DIC dictionary. But you can choose to store them in alternate dictionaries as well.

Creating New Custom Dictionaries

Specialized terminology and names work best stored in their own custom dictionaries, separate from your everyday vocabulary. Here is how to create a new dictionary:

  1. Open the Custom Dictionaries dialog box using the steps above.
  2. Click the New button in the lower right.
  3. Name your new dictionary something descriptive (e.g. “Legal Terms”).
  4. Select a location to store the dictionary file on your computer.
  5. Click Save.

The new dictionary will now appear in your list. You can manually add words to it right away or activate it so misspellings get added automatically.

Storing categories of words in separate dictionaries keeps things organized. For example, you may want separate dictionaries for:

  • Client names: Auto-adds client names for error-free company documents.
  • Medical terminology: Stores anatomy, diseases, treatments.
  • Legal terms: Contains laws, court terminology, citations.
  • Industry jargon: Error-proof documents with sector-specific lingo.

The possibilities are endless! Create dictionaries tailored to your writing requirements.

Adding Third-Party Custom Dictionaries

In addition to building your own dictionaries, you can also add pre-made specialized dictionaries. Many are available to download online.

Here’s how to add a third-party dictionary:

  1. Download the .dic file you want to use. It must have the .dic file extension to work.
  2. In the Custom Dictionaries dialog box, click the Add button.
  3. Select the downloaded .dic file and click Open.

The dictionary will now show up in your list. Check the box to activate it or edit it like other dictionaries.

Using third-party dictionaries saves time if comprehensive word lists already exist for your industry or subject matter. They may contain thousands of technical terms to eliminate spelling errors.

Activating and Deactivating Dictionaries

Once your dictionaries are set up, toggle them on and off using the checkboxes:

  • Checked means a dictionary is active. Words in active dictionaries will not get flagged as errors during spell check.
  • Unchecked means a dictionary is inactive. Words will get marked misspelled if not found in other dictionaries.

Activating custom dictionaries

With multiple dictionaries, you may not need them all active at the same time. For example, keep client names enabled when drafting company reports but legal terms disabled until working on your next contract.

Toggling dictionaries on and off prevents clutter and irrelevant words diluting your spell check. Activate each dictionary only when you need those specific words.

When to Use Custom Dictionaries

Adding a custom dictionary optimizes spell check to suit your writing style and subject matter. They are useful in situations such as:

Industry-specific writing: Store terminology for error-free writing in your field. Technical documentation and reports benefit the most.

Specialized vocabulary: Add vocabulary words like scientific terms, legal jargon, or medical phrases. No more bothersome red squiggles disrupting your writing flow.

Foreign language terms: Store words from other languages commonly used in your writing like Latin phrases. No need to constantly ignore the spell checker for foreign words.

Names and places: Include client names, locale names, product names, and other proper nouns. Perfect for company documents, legal contracts, reports, and more.

Uncommon words: Your writing style may include words like neologisms or clever turns of phrase. Add these so they pass spell check.

Acronyms and abbreviations: Spell out each acronym/abbreviation in its singular and plural forms to teach spell check. For example, “HTML” and “HTMLs”.

Without custom dictionaries, industry lingo and other uncommon words slow down your writing momentum. Populating dictionaries prevents repetitive spell check disruptions so you stay focused.

Troubleshooting Tips

When adding and managing custom dictionaries, keep these troubleshooting tips in mind:

  • Close all Microsoft Office programs before editing dictionary files for changes to apply properly.
  • Dictionary files save with a .dic extension. Only files with .dic extensions will work.
  • For dictionaries to remain available, do not move, rename, or delete the dictionary files.
  • If a custom dictionary is not working, check it is active by ticking the checkbox in the list.
  • Long dictionary files may impact performance, so keep dictionaries concise.
  • Removing words from the default dictionary is not recommended and can cause issues.

With the steps in this tutorial, you can now set up custom dictionaries tailored to your writing style and subject matter. Refer back to this guide if you need help editing, removing, importing, exporting, or troubleshooting dictionaries.

Soon you’ll forget what it was like writing without customized spell check! The red squiggly lines under annoying industry lingo will be a thing of the past.

Summary of Key Points

  • Access custom dictionaries through the File > Options > Proofing menu
  • Manually add words to existing dictionaries or create new specialty dictionaries
  • Import third-party dictionaries containing industry jargon, names, technical terms, etc.
  • Check/uncheck dictionaries to enable/disable them for spell checking
  • Create dictionaries for client names, locale names, medical words, legal terms, uncommon words, and more
  • Custom dictionaries optimize spell check for specialized writing needs and vocabularies

With personalized dictionaries, say goodbye to repetitive spell check disruptions holding you back. Now you can include industry terms, foreign phrases, names, and other unique words without issue.

I hope this tutorial gave you the knowledge to set up custom dictionaries that enhance your writing productivity in Microsoft Word. Let me know if you have any other questions!