Software

How do I... Remove misspelled words from the custom dictionary in Office 2003 or 2007?


This information is also available as a PDF download.

By default, Office 2003 offers a built-in custom dictionary that lets you store terms and names that would otherwise get flagged as unrecognized during a spell check. Word and PowerPoint offer background spell-checking, so all you have to do is right-click on a flagged term (wavy red line) and choose Add To Dictionary from the shortcut menu. Excel and Outlook require you to run the spell checker yourself. When they encounter an unrecognized term, they'll open the Spelling dialog box and give you the option to add the term to the custom dictionary. Either way, the term will land in Custom.dic, the default custom dictionary file, and all the applications will ignore the term when they come across it again.

Sometimes, though, you may accidentally add a misspelled term to the custom dictionary. For instance, you might unwittingly mistype a company name or some new bit of jargon and add it to the dictionary before you catch your mistake. A dictionary with misspellings in it is somewhat counterproductive, so it's a good idea to go in and remove them when they creep in. Although Excel and PowerPoint 2003 let you add words to the shared dictionary, you have to use Word (or Outlook) to modify the dictionary file. Here are the steps for doing this in Word:

  1. Go to Tools | Options, click on the Spelling & Grammar tab, and click the Custom Dictionaries button. (Figure A).

Figure A

  1. In the Custom Dictionaries dialog box (Figure B), make sure CUSTOM.DIC (default) is selected in the Dictionary List and click Modify.

Figure B

  1. When the CUSTOM.DIC dialog box opens (Figure C), locate the misspelled word in the Dictionary list box, select it, and click Delete.

Figure C

  1. To replace the term with the correct version, just type it in the Word text box and click Add (Figure D). When you're finished, exit all dialog boxes by clicking OK.

Figure D

Outlook 2003

If you want to modify the custom dictionary using Outlook, just choose Options from the main Tools menu and click the Spelling tab, as shown in Figure E. Under Edit Custom Dictionary, click Edit. Outlook will then open the custom dictionary as a text file (Figure F).

Figure E

Figure F

What about Office 2007?

The Office 2007 apps all support editing the custom dictionary. And Outlook 2007 (which now offers background spell-checking in messages) includes an option to access the custom dictionary file in a slightly more elegant way than via text file.

  1. In all the apps, you just click the Office button and choose the Options command at the bottom of the menu.
  2. Choose Proofing from the pane of categories on the left (Figure G).

Figure G

  1. Click Custom Dictionaries to open the dialog box shown in Figure H.

Figure H

  1. Click Edit Word List to open the CUSTOM.DIC dialog box (Figure I).

Figure I

From there, it works the same as Office 2003 -- except that there's a Delete All option now. I guess that's in case you go on a bender and manage to fill up the entire dictionary file with misspelled words.

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

37 comments
craig_willied
craig_willied

This is a Great Article and very useful. Thanks!

n4aof
n4aof

Excellent dicussions, although probably more appropriate elsewhere.

canopic@clear
canopic@clear

While were talking about such: what about all the grammar checker's errors? How do you edit grammar checking rules?

n4aof
n4aof

The trickier issue is how to remove misspelled words from Office's main dictionary. YES, there most surely are misspelled words in the main dictionary. "Solider" is one example. Apparently someone made the mistake of thinking you could have solid, solider, solidest -- but solid as an adjective is an absolute, just like full and empty (for which MS Office makes the same error, accepting the -er and -est versions of both words). Perhaps they need to add illiterate, illiterater, illiteratest??

PaladinIII
PaladinIII

Nice, but much easier to edit the file directly: C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Microsoft\Proof

Trilogy
Trilogy

Thanks! True, there are a lot of WIN98 users still out there (I run it on one of my machines at home), but even tips on 2003 and 2007, unless focused on unique features, generally give me ideas about how to handle the same thing in earlier versions.

still_learntoo
still_learntoo

Michael doesn't like to hear this, but there are still a great majority of computer users who are using Win 98, Office 2000, etc. In fact, in my world, WordPerfect is still holding forth. Every body doesn't have to have the latest. So please remember we, the great majority, when you write these help tips. Editing things such as the dictionary should have been included in the Help pages when the program was written.

Fil0403
Fil0403

In more than 5 years using Office I've never run into one.

canopic@clear
canopic@clear

While you will find fuller, fullest, solider, solidest, etc in some dictionaries, and even in common usage in some people groups, basically I agree with you. Our language is being bastardised. I also would not use these words because they detract from the value of having absolute adjectives in the first place. To me, full should be just that: FULL. If three Hard Disks are FULL, it does not make sense to ask which one is fullest! But it makes perfect sense to ask which one is fastest. But if you can have fuller and fullest, then clearly there are degrees of being full, [just like degrees of being fast], and full ceases to be the absolute that it always used to be. So the meaning if words becomes smeared. Certainly, not a new phenomenon - I guess many would shrug their shoulders and say you can't stop language evolving. True. But some evolution is upward - enhancing the language, and is perhaps introduced by thoughtful people, or at least picked up and used by people who see its value. Other evolution is downward - brought about because grammar is not taught or understood in our society like it once was, and a lot of people just don't care. Sometimes it is just lazyness. Whatever - errors creep into our language until they are accepted as common usage. Others might disagree, but my distinct impression, is that in recent years [perhaps coincident with the fall-off in English grammar teaching in schools], the downward evolution has been accelerating, while the upward has been slowing. Does anybody care? Maybe not!

dalburn
dalburn

Not altogether sure what this is all about, but if the question is "Are 'solider' and 'solidest' words?" the answer is unquestionably "Yes". The Oxford English Dictionary says so, Chambers says so, and if some spell-checker or some online dictionary disagrees, then it is grievously in error.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I have run into this paradox also.

Fil0403
Fil0403

I don't know where you people who claim there are a LOT of Win98 users still out there are living, what you've smoked or what your definition of "LOT" is, but 1.14% (http://www.linkbucks.com/link/fcdd700a) of computer users is not exactly what I consider a LOT of users (maybe that's just me).

Fil0403
Fil0403

still_learntoo doesn't like to hear this, but the great majority of computer users are using Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003. In fact, the tendency is that the great majority of computer users will sooner or later be using Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Every body doesn't have to be trailling behind. So please remember we, the true great majority, when you write these comments. Editing things such as the dictionary is included in every Help section of every Microsoft Office suite that supports that feature.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

were usually ASCII text files with the proprietary filenames and extensions. I remember modifying my custom dictionary for WordPerfect and Wordstar using DOS Edit.

n4aof
n4aof

It has been much too long since I last used WordStar, so I don't recall anything about its custom dictionary; but you can edit the custom dictionary in any of the earlier versions of MS Office by using any plain text editor (Notepad if your dictionary isn't too big).

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

A grammar-checking rule or a mistake in one? If you've never run into a mistake, you obviously have not used the Office grammar-checker.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Some times I am proud of my back woods culture and speak like a redneck; but when I am serious I would rather use good "old school" grammar. Anything else just isn't being serious; and doesn't deserve any respect. I'm prejudiced that way.

n4aof
n4aof

I had used the exclude dictionary in older versions of Word but the old method didn't work when we switched to Word 2003. It will probably be next year before I need to find a way to do the same thing in Word 2007 (or whatever comes next).

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I'll accept that they are words in English English. But the only American English dictionary that mentions them is the American clone of the OED, the American Heritage. Neither the OED or the American Heritage is renowned for their ability to let old words go... ;)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Who spit in your oatmeal? Or did I miss a tag? Your reference to freedictionary.com is a direct copy of the American Heritage Dictionary definition. The American Heritage is the [b]only[/b] dictionary searched by dictionary.com to return results on "solider." And I'm inclined to believe that's an entry error, as the print version I have does not include "solider" in its definition of "solid." A search for "solid" return 20 results. BTW, don't expect me, or anybody else to follow your links in the future. I'll be damned if I'm going to put money in your pocket at the same time I prove you small-minded, arrogant, and in general a PITA.

Fil0403
Fil0403

Have you called the FBI?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The USA is far behind the rest of the industrial world in access to high-speed internet. Although most cities and large towns have high-speed access (either cable or DSL or both), once you leave the suburbs for the country, that access stops. Many people here still have no choice but to link through dial-up and do their best to stay away from those "awesome" bandwidth-sucking Flash and ActiveX sites. I don't know where you are living, what you've smoked or what your definition of "LOT" is, but 20-25% of my personal work in the last two years has been on Windows 98 PCs. See the paragraph above for the reason. It's not a majority, but it's a substantial percentage. Funny, but I was unable to determine the methodology for collecting and processing statistics to which you referred in your link. As near as I can tell, the statistics apply to only those sites that are running hitslink. Are these sites a representative sample? Does hitslink or NetApplications have an agenda? Edit: clarify

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

after second look. [i]...the great majority of computer users are using Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003.[/i] Two questions: 1. What is your source for this information (in particular the office suite users)? 2. Are these properly licensed, WGA-approved installs? For example, say I have a PC with both Windows XP (properly licensed) and Office 2003 (improperly licensed) installed. Do I count as one of your majority?

Tig2
Tig2

You risk sounding very much a fanboy when you respond in such a manner. I prefer to think that is not your desire. My company will only be able to contemplate an upgrade to Vista in tandem with our many business partners with whom we share applications. Our partners don't forsee a move for at least two to three years. When you are managing to custom applications, the base OS is a key factor in your upgrade path. As I work for a non-profit, we won't be looking down the upgrade road any time soon. The costs would be prohibitive. As a technical website, it is the hope of every peer here that we provide information that supports every one in one way or another. Oddly, we worry less about the "majority" and more about the unique configuration out there. That is the springboard of innovation. As a "senior" computer user, I recall the days when we tried everything BUT the tried and true, just to see what would happen. That kind of experimentation continues. The only clearly definable majority are those who use computers at all. From that majority, you must exclude those who only use computers as an element of their work-life. They have different needs.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Perhaps still_learntoo forgot to qualify his statement, but I can tell you that the majority of PCs I have seen recently are running Windows 2000/XP, with the corresponding release of MS Office installed. I don't know of any business locally that is seriously contemplating upgrading either their OS or their office suite within the next two years.

Tig2
Tig2

Trollish is the right word. When I have seen him do this before, there was an army of fanboys to defend him. This thread hasn't picked up that rabble and he is being required to respond intelligently. Don't think he'll be back, but I have been proven wrong before. You can always tell a fanboy... But you can't tell him much.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But in previous posts in this thread and others, he has been downright abusive, if not actually trollish.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Especially grammar ;-D Besides I think the guy was just being sarcastic. Everybody knows grammar check is a joke!

JCitizen
JCitizen

I refuse to use such words. in context or out, for the simple fact that I feel like that kind of grammar makes me sound like a guy from the back woods of Missouri. Not that there is anything wrong with being from there; it is just not me.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The argument could be over comma placement! :D

dalburn
dalburn

The clever men at Oxford Know all that there is to be knowed, But they none of them know one half as much As intelligent Mr Toad. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows Many dictionaries (including the OED and, no doubt, such equally eminent American authorities as Merriam-Webster) do not bother to list as independent entries such comparatives and superlatives as "solider" and "solidest". Lexicographers assume (foolishly, in the case of the original poster who seemed to think that "fuller" and "fullest" were not words) a certain level of familiarity with the basic rules of English syntax. In that regard, they are no less to blame than the people who document software, in that they assume a familiarity with the "product" that the "user" cannot reasonably be expected to have. But they are no more to blame, either.

n4aof
n4aof

The same ridiculous freedictionary.com that claims solider and solidest are valid forms also allows using solid as an adverb - complete with an obvously incorrect example using solid as an adverb when the corect word would have been solidly. At least they didn't try to give any examples of using solider or solidest.

Tig2
Tig2

Give it no mind, I have seen this guy before. Serious fanboy. MS will rule his corner of the world. Chill, babz. I'll email you an elderly single malt. :x

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Read the freaking title of the article. Case closed. Don't like it, write your own article for the 64,000 other apps out there that are still in use.

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