Ignore Setting on Misspelled Words not Persistent

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


Don has a very long Word document that includes a lot of unusual names in it. He doesn't want to clutter the dictionary with each of the names, so he normally does a spell check and marks each one as "ignore all" or (sometimes) "ignore once." Unfortunately, the next time Don opens the document most of the names are again marked with a wavy red underline, calling the misspellings to his attention. He questions whether Word should remember that he marked these names to be ignored.

When you right-click on a misspelled word, you are given three options: Ignore, Ignore All, or Add to Dictionary. If you click Ignore, then Word simply ignores this one instance of the misspelled word. If you click Ignore All, it is the same as clicking Ignore, except that Word ignores all words spelled the same way in the document.

Note that Ignore and Ignore All affect only the current document, and only for the current session of working with the document. When you later open the document again (or open a document with similar names in it), then the words again show as misspelled. The options are, essentially, a way to temporarily—not permanently—stop Word from noting the misspelling.

That leaves the Add to Dictionary option. It adds the word to the dictionary so that Word no longer marks the word as misspelled, anywhere. Actually, the word will be marked as misspelled if you open the document on a different system that doesn't use the same dictionary that you use; it is only considered spelled correctly if opened on your system—the one where you added the word to the dictionary.

Word uses two dictionaries when spell-checking your documents: a built-in dictionary and a custom dictionary. When you click the Add to Dictionary option, Word adds the word to the custom dictionary, not to the built-in one. A custom dictionary is nothing but a plain-text file that contains words, one per line, that should be considered as spelled correctly. You can, if desired, create and use multiple custom dictionaries. This allows you, for instance, to create a custom dictionary to use for a specific job (like the one that contains all the names) and then switch to a different custom dictionary when you are working on a different job. Further, when you are done with the job to which the custom dictionary applied, you could move the custom dictionary off your system and store it with the documents related to that job.

Here are the general steps you would follow in order to do this:

  1. Use the search capabilities of Windows (outside of Word) to locate the custom dictionary. Search for the file "custom.dic" (without the quote marks).
  2. When you locate the file, copy it somewhere else on your system, and remember where you copied it.
  3. Work with your document, adding any words you want to the custom dictionary.
  4. When done working with the document, move it to an archive folder somewhere. (This assumes, of course, that you follow the good practice of archiving your documents when you are done with each job.)
  5. Again use Windows to locate "custom.dic" (without the quote marks) and move it to the same archive folder that you used in step 4.
  6. Locate the original custom.dic file (step 2) and copy it back to the proper location.

That's it; the custom dictionary is back the way it was, uncluttered by the names you needed only for the one job on which you were working.

Of course, you can do a lot of this directly in Word, if you desire. Follow these steps before you spell-check the document that has lots of names in it:

  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.
  3. Click the Custom Dictionaries button. Word displays the Custom Dictionaries dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Custom Dictionaries dialog box.

  5. Click the New button. Word displays the Create Custom Dictionary dialog box.
  6. Enter a name for your new dictionary in the File Name field.
  7. Click Save. The Custom Dictionaries dialog box again appears, with the addition of the new custom dictionary you just created.
  8. Click on the name of the custom dictionary you just created.
  9. Click the Change Default button. The new dictionary is now the default that Word will use. (It still pays attention to any other custom dictionaries; the default is simply the one in which new words are stored.)
  10. Click OK to close the Custom Dictionaries dialog box.
  11. Click OK to close the Word Options dialog box.

Now, any names or words you add to the custom dictionary end up in the one you created and specified as the default. If you later want to switch back to the other dictionary, simply display the Custom Dictionaries dialog box again, select the dictionary you want used as the default, and then click the Change Default button.

If you don't want to take an approach that involves working with dictionaries, you could always create a character style that has the "do not check spelling" attribute specified. When you find a name or other word you don't want Word to mark as incorrectly spelled, just apply the style to that name or word. Since styles are remembered with the document in which they are used, those names or words will never be marked as incorrectly spelled.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13428) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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 five more than 6?

2023-10-27 10:17:47


The advantage to adding the names to the dictionary rather than just Ignoring them is that they will then be flagged as incorrect if spelled other than the way they were added; otherwise you have to manually check each instance of the name for typos.

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