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Dictionaries for Microsoft Word

When you install Microsoft Word, a general-purpose dictionary is automatically installed. This dictionary, specific to the language version of your installation, is used by the spell-checker to flag words that may be incorrect. As you've learned in other issues of WordTips, you can also create custom dictionaries that allow you to manage the checking of words not in the standard Word dictionary.

Many times people in specific professions need specialized dictionaries that are focused on the type of writing they do. Regardless of your profession, it is possible to create your own custom dictionaries comprised of hundreds or thousands of specialized words. Unless you are very patient (and a good speller), you may find it beneficial to download and use a custom dictionary that someone else has developed.

This is really rather easy because custom dictionaries are nothing but plain text lists of words that are spelled correctly. Put the dictionary file in the proper folder and give it a name recognized by Word, and it can be automatically used by the program. (Locations and file names for custom dictionaries have been covered in other issues of WordTips.)

The problem for many people, then, is not using the dictionaries, but locating where dictionaries can be downloaded. The biggest help for this task is a good search engine, and some time to do some searching and browsing. For instance, enter the phrase "custom dictionary" (with the quote marks) along with the profession you are interested in, such as medical, dental, veterinary, etc. You should be able to come up with some promising candidates in this manner.

I've found that some dictionaries are better than others, but this judgment is based more on the number of words in the dictionary rather than any other factor. Some dictionaries are only a few dollars, while others can get quite expensive. The following are two dictionaries that I quickly located on the Web; you will undoubtedly find more:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (360) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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