Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Creating a Spelling Exclusion List.

Creating a Spelling Exclusion List

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 17, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


The spell checker used by Word can be a great tool, but sometimes it seems that words you know should be in the dictionary aren't and other words that are there seem silly or are outright wrong. In either case, it would be nice to edit the default Word spelling dictionary.

Unfortunately, the default dictionary used by Word is stored in a binary format and is not editable. There is a two-fold approach that Microsoft has chosen to implement when it comes to the dictionaries. First, you can use custom dictionaries. These are text files that allow you to add words the spell checker should consider as being spelled OK. Editing the custom dictionaries is discussed fully in different WordTips issues.

The second approach is that you can use exclude lists. The exclude list is a text file following the same format as the custom dictionaries (a text file with a single word on each line). The difference is that these words are marked as incorrectly spelled no matter what. Thus, it is a backwards way to "remove" words from the default dictionary.

Exclude files, again, are standard text files. This means you can edit them with any text editor, such as Notepad, or with a word processor such as Word (provided you save in a text-only format). When Word is installed, there is at least one exclude file created. The file is empty, just waiting for you to add words to it. The biggest trick is in finding the exclude file (or files).

The easiest way to locate the exclude files is to use your favorite "find file" method within Windows. Look for a file that begins with the words "ExcludeDictionary" and has a file extension of LEX. You can also locate the exclude files by navigating to: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof. On my Windows 10 system I was able to locate the following four files:


Note that the full name of the exclude file includes a two-character language code (EN is English and FR is French) and four hexadecimal digits that are called a "language LCID." This is a locale ID which indicates a further breakdown of which dialect of a language the exclude file applies to. You can find an agonizingly long list of these codes here:

Assuming you have more than one of the exclude files on your system (as I do), then you need to figure out which of them you should edit. In my case, I wanted to add words to the American English file, since that is the dialect and language I use in my writing. The EN portion of the name is easy. In looking up the language LCID codes, I find that the one I need is the one that uses EN0409.

Now that you know which file you need to use, all you need to do is right-click the file and choose to open it using Notepad. You can then enter into the file all the words you want excluded from the dictionary (marked incorrect) by Word. You just need to put one per line, making sure that you include all forms or possessives of the word. (For instance, if you wanted to exclude theater you should also exclude theaters and theater's.)

Once you save the file and restart Word, you are set to go. (You must restart Word because the program only pays attention to the exclude file and any new words it contains when you first start the program.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8695) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Creating a Spelling Exclusion List.

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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What is 1 - 0?

2021-10-15 15:15:50

Lilli Hausenfluck

There are no exclude dictionaries in the UProof folder, Just CUSTOM.DIC. I searched the C drive for excludedictionaryEN0409.lex but nothing and *.lex. Where can I get a copy? Thanks!

2021-02-16 09:25:52


Jay: whether this works or not also depends on what language the particular document or even paragraph is set to. In the Win10 desktop 2016/19 version, I add Commands not in the Ribbon>Language (SetLanguageMenu) to my personal ribbon tab to have it visible all the time. If you collaborate with others on documents, you'd be surprised what other languages various parts of a document can be set to depending on the default language setting on their copy of Word. In my workplace, I have to maintain both Canadian and US English exclude dictionaries--they're copies of each other. But Word can automatically set a paragraph to French if it detects a few French words in it. In that case, you should reset the entire text to your default language (if that's what it's supposed to be in) under Review tab>Language>Set Proofing Language, although I find the first command I mentioned to be handier.

2020-09-21 15:54:28


This worked....brilliant!

2020-07-10 02:49:35

Nic Parham

This does not seem to work for word365 on a mac. I search for an excludedictionary, but none is found!

2020-01-17 04:56:32

Ken Endacott


Check the spelling of the file name. Also check that the language of the paragraph you are entering is the same as the exclusion dictionary that you set up. EN0409 is US, EN0809 is UK, EN1009 is CAN and EN0C09 is AU. If the word is also in a custom dictionary then it overrides what is in the exclusion dictionary.

If you are using Word 2016 (and presumably 365 and 2019) you could try putting the exclusion file in:
C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Office\3bd8af97\Proofing
Yours may have a folder with a name similar to 3bd8af97. This folder will also have the file RoamingCustom.dic which is the Word 2016 equivalent to CUSTOM.DIC in previous versions.

I test the exclusion words by using one of those naughty words that the normal language dictionary accepts. These words are unlikely to be in a custom dictionary.

2020-01-16 12:44:48


Restarting did not work either.
Perhaps the issue is that this is a work computer and I am not the administrator? I would think it would still work for my account though, since I used my username in the string C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof, and am logged into that account.

2020-01-16 12:31:15


Thanks for this article, but it didn't work for me.
I added the words I wanted to exclude to the ExcludeDictionaryEN0409.lex, saved, closed the file. I then opened Word, making sure that the program was closed first, but the words that I had added to the exclusion dictionary were not caught by SpellCheck. I'll try restarting the computer next.

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