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: Keyboard Changes to Unwanted Foreign Language.

Keyboard Changes to Unwanted Foreign Language

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 11, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

Erica wonders why Word all of a sudden changes the keys to "foreign" lettering. For example, without warning when she presses the question mark, she'll get an "e" with an accent, and the "~" (tilde) produces a "#". All of the keys seem to be remapped to the foreign language and Erica doesn't understand why. The only way she knows to stop it is to close the document and open it again.

In all likelihood, this problem needs to be addressed in both the operating system and in Word. Windows systems can have multiple language configurations installed on them. For instance, it is not unusual to have both English and French installed on a given system (this may happen when the user is in a country—such as Canada—that has two dominant languages).

When there are multiple languages installed in the operating system, the system provides a way to easily switch between the languages. On most systems this is instigated by pressing Alt+Shift. If you press this shortcut inadvertently, you can find yourself typing in a language you didn't intend. The solution is to press the shortcut again so that you return to the language configuration you want to use.

You should remember, however, that the Alt+Shift shortcut may not work on all systems. For some language combinations Windows may use a different shortcut (such as Ctrl+Spacebar), and it is possible that a different shortcut than these was specified by a previous user of your system

Within Word, you might want to check whether the program is configured to automatically detect languages or not. If it is, then it is possible that the language switching is occurring because of the words you are typing within your document. You can check this configuration setting in Word 2010 or a later version by following these steps:

  1. Display the Review tab of the ribbon
  2. Select Language from the Language group.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select Set Proofing Language. Word displays the Language dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Language dialog box.

  5. Clear the Detect Language Automatically check box.
  6. Click OK.

If you're using Word 2007, the steps are slightly different, but the result is the same. You can check this configuration setting in Word 2007 by following these steps:

  1. Display the Review tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Set Language tool in the Proofing group. Word displays the Language dialog box.
  3. Clear the Detect Language Automatically check box.
  4. Click OK.

When you make the language setting change in Word, it is applicable only to the document or template that you have open at the time. If you want the change to be applicable to all your future documents, you'll want to open the Normal template before making the change and then save the template after the change is made.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8715) 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: Keyboard Changes to Unwanted Foreign Language.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Moving Quickly Between Directories

Want an easy way to move between directories using the Open dialog box? With just a little bit of up-front typing, you ...

Discover More

Using Hidden Styles

Using styles to format templates can save a lot of time and ensure consistency when working on several documents. Some ...

Discover More

Detecting Hidden Rows

Excel allows you to easily hide rows in a worksheet, so their contents are not visible. Figuring out how to detect where ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Changing the Language Setting for All Document Text

Word supports a number of different languages for documents you create. If you need to routinely change the language used ...

Discover More

Specifying a Language for Text

Need to format a paragraph (or some selected text) so that it is a language other than English? You can do so easily by ...

Discover More

Pasting Text in a Specific Language

When copying information into a Word document, you may want to make sure that the information pasted is formatted as a ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 + 3?

2023-02-11 14:47:24

Tomek

On my system there are two default shortcuts for switching between languages:
Left-Alt+Shift
Window+Spacebar
The former works silently, so you don't know until after typing something.
The latter, if you have multiple languages/keyboards set, pops a menu on the screen. Hold the windows key and keep pressing Spacebar until you get the language you want.

I disabled the Left-Alt+Shift to be able to use those for macro and other shortcuts.
Search for
"How do I turn off Shift Alt in Windows 10?"


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Videos
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.