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: Changing between English Variants.

Changing between English Variants

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 8, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


English is English, right? No, it is not. Ask anyone who works with international documents; they know that there are many variations of English. For instance, in US English words that are spelled one way (organize, catalog, behavior, etc.) are spelled differently in UK English (organise, catalogue, behaviour, etc.). The upshot of these variations is that you may also need to produce different versions of your documents for audiences that use the different language variations.

The traditional way of doing the conversion from one variation to another is straightforward:

  1. Select the text to be converted. (For instance, select the entire document.)
  2. Display the Review tab of the ribbon.
  3. If you are using Word 2007, click the Set Language tool in the Proofing group. If you are using Word 2010 or a later version, click the Language tool in the Language group and then choose Set Proofing Language. Either way, Word displays the Language dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Language dialog box.

  5. Select the variation to which you want to convert.
  6. Click on OK. Word examines the text and marks spellings and grammar differences according to the language that you selected.
  7. Press F7. Word starts the spelling and grammar checking utility.
  8. Make corrections, as appropriate, when prompted.

If you do a lot of textual conversions, going through these steps can become very routine, to the point of tedium. It would seem to be a simple thing to simply change the spellings from one English variation to another, without the need for manual review in this manner. Unfortunately, Word doesn't provide such a feature. You can, however, create a macro that would do the conversions for you. Follow these general steps:

  1. Identify a list of words whose spelling you want to convert.
  2. Turn on the macro recorder.
  3. Use the Replace feature to replace the spellings.
  4. Turn off the macro recorder.

You now have a macro that will do a conversion from one variation to the other. Later, as you become aware of more words that need to be automatically replaced, you can edit the macro and add those words.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10172) 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: Changing between English Variants.

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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