How to Create and Use a Custom Dictionary in Microsoft Word

62671 How to Create and Use a Custom Dictionary in Microsoft Word

A custom dictionary allows you to add specialized words, names, or terms that Microsoft Word’s standard dictionary does not recognize. Creating and using a custom dictionary ensures these words are not marked as misspellings in your Word documents.

Why Use a Custom Dictionary

There are several benefits to creating a custom dictionary in Word:

  • Add industry-specific terminology – Include unique words or phrases used in your profession that standard dictionaries may not contain.
  • Add proper names – Add people’s names, company names, brand names, etc. so they are not marked incorrect.
  • Add abbreviations and acronyms – Include shortened versions of words or phrases commonly used in your documents.
  • Improve spell check accuracy – With a robust custom dictionary, Word’s spell checker will be more precise for your writing style and vocabulary.

How to Create a Custom Dictionary

Creating a custom dictionary in Word only takes a few minutes. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Word and click the “File” tab.
  2. Click “Options” then select “Proofing”.
  3. Click the button for “Custom Dictionaries”.
  4. Click the “New” button.
  5. Give your new custom dictionary a name and save it.

Your new dictionary will now appear in the list of custom dictionaries. Next, designate it as the default dictionary to add new words to automatically.

How to Add Words to the Custom Dictionary

With your custom dictionary set as the default, adding words is simple:

  1. When spell checking a document, right-click on an unrecognized word.
  2. Select “Add to Dictionary” from the pop-up menu.
  3. The word is automatically added to the default custom dictionary.

You can also manually enter words into the custom dictionary:

  1. In the “Custom Dictionaries” dialog box, select your dictionary.
  2. Click “Edit Word List”.
  3. Type the word in the box and click “Add”.
  4. Click “OK” when finished adding words.

Tips for Managing Your Custom Dictionary

Here are some tips for maintaining an optimal custom dictionary:

  • Add one word per line – Manually adding words works best when entering them one per line.
  • Include all forms of words – For irregular verbs, include both present and past tense forms.
  • Use lowercase letters – Unless the word should always be capitalized, use lowercase.
  • Remove misspellings – If a typo gets added accidentally, delete it using the “Edit Word List” feature.
  • Review and edit periodically – Verify all entries are spelled properly and still relevant over time.
  • Share with colleagues – To align terminology across an organization, share the dictionary file.

Using Custom Dictionaries Effectively

Here are some best practices for making the most of custom dictionaries:

  • Create one for each major documentation project or client.
  • Add new terminology and names as soon as they are introduced.
  • Double check accuracy of automatic word additions.
  • Distribute a common custom dictionary to co-workers.
  • Set the correct dictionary as default before writing first drafts.
  • Remember to spell check again after making vocabulary additions.

Maintaining a comprehensive custom dictionary boosts writing productivity. The specialized terminology you add will always be recognized, rather than marked incorrect. This improves formatting by eliminating unnecessary red underlines for correct words.

Most importantly, custom dictionaries reduce time-consuming steps in the editing process. You avoid constantly having to right-click or manually add words while writing. Instead, you can stay focused, integrating specialized vocabulary terms seamlessly.


Creating and populating a custom dictionary is easy in Word. To recap, follow these essential steps:

  • Open the “Custom Dictionaries” dialog
  • Create a new dictionary
  • Set the new dictionary as default
  • Add specialized terminology
  • Share dictionary files with colleagues

Using a targeted custom dictionary saves time, improves document appearance, and enhances writing accuracy. Boost productivity on your next project by leveraging this underutilized feature in Word.

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