Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Limiting Spell Checking.

Limiting Spell Checking

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 29, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


When you run the spell checker in Word (or when Word checks your spelling as you type), the words in your document are compared against both the main dictionary and any custom dictionaries you may have opened. (The main dictionary is the one provided by Microsoft; custom dictionaries are those you create by adding your own words.) Sometimes you may not want Word to do this.

For instance, let's say that you have developed a rather extensive dictionary that is very specific to your industry or to your company. The dictionary may contain many specialized terms, but using those terms to spell-check a document you are preparing for your church or civic organization may be inappropriate. If you want to limit Word's spell checker so it only uses the main dictionary—not your custom ones—you can follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Proofing at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Proofing options for the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Suggest From Main Dictionary Only check box is selected. (This option is just above the Custom Dictionaries button.)
  5. Click on OK.

Don't forget to reverse this process later, when you want to again take your custom dictionaries into account. Follow the same steps but, in step 3, make sure the Suggest From Main Dictionary Only check box is cleared.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6041) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Limiting Spell Checking.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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