Spellcheck for Two Languages

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 27, 2020)

Dessy needs to know how she can run a spellcheck on a document containing words from two different languages. She wonders if there is a way to make the dictionary ignore the text written in one of the languages while checking the other.

Actually, Word is very good at handling proofing in two (or more) languages. There is a key to making it work correctly, however: You need to make sure that the text in each language is formatted as being in that language.

To those not familiar with Word, that may sound rather confusing. Giving an example may help to shed light on how Word handles proofing your text. Follow these steps:

  1. Select some text that is in a particular language. For instance, if you have text in your document that is in French, select that text.
  2. Display the Review tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Language tool (in the Language group) and then click Set Proofing Language. Word displays the Language dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Language dialog box.

  5. In the list of available languages, select the option that reflects the language of the text.
  6. Click OK.

That's it; when you do a spellcheck (or any other proofing task), Word uses the dictionaries and rules related to the language you specified in step 4.

If you have lots of text to configure in this manner, it makes more sense to design styles that utilize the appropriate languages. For instance, if you have a style named Body that is used for English text, you might develop another style called Body French which is based on Body but has the language configured for French. That way you can apply the appropriate styles to your text and Word will automatically adjust how it proofs that text.

One quick note: You might be tempted to rely on the "Detect Language Automatically" setting (see the Language dialog box). Don't. It doesn't work that great, and you will get better results if you explicitly specify the language that should be associated with the differing passages of text in your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13200) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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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