Changing Default Languages, Revisited

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 2, 2017)

3

Last week's issue of WordTips included information on how to change the default language used by Word. The tip included some misleading information that was kindly (and graciously) corrected by a source at Microsoft. Indeed, the behavior of Word in relation to its default language can be a bit tricky.

The default language is actually set by choosing Language from the Tools menu, and then choosing Set Language. From the resulting Language dialog box you select the language you want Word to use, and then click on the Default button. This sets the language in the Normal style and is therefore the language that text will be proofed in when you start a blank document and start typing.

However, if you have more than one keyboard (input locale) installed on your system, when you start a blank document Word will automatically apply direct formatting on the text matching the currently active input locale, thereby overriding the setting in the Language dialog box. Word is designed this way so that when you start typing, the language Word assumes for the text has the best probability of matching the actual language being typed (since the language being typed USUALLY matches the language of the input locale).

It is important to note that the above language setting is direct (non-styled) formatting. The Normal style, and therefore the true default language for Word is still the language chosen in Language dialog box.

Word 2000 and Word 2002 have an additional feature that causes them to try to automatically determine the language you are actually typing, which in practice does not always match the language of the input locale (keyboard) you are using. This is controlled by the addition to the Language dialog box of a check box entitled Detect Language Automatically. Word will only try to detect languages that are checked in the Office Language Settings utility. (Click on the Start button, choose Programs, select Microsoft Office Tools, and then run Microsoft Office Language Settings.)

To provide an example that illustrates the foregoing, let's imagine you have a plain English (U.S.) system with no additional input locales (keyboards) installed. You can go to the Languages dialog box, set the language to Danish, and click Default. The next time you create a blank document, the language will say Danish; you have changed the default. If you then go into the Control Panel and add an additional keyboard layout (e.g. Swedish), you will find that the language used for new documents is based on the keyboard that is active when the document is created. Ironically, if you do not add a Danish input locale, you will never see the default language appearing by default in Word. If you are using Word 2000 or Word 2002 and use the Office Language Settings utility to check the boxes for Danish and for Swedish, you'll find that Word will now detect the language you are typing after the first sentence or so, and set the language appropriately.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (889) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Changing Paragraph Order

Want a quick way to rearrange entire paragraphs of your document? You can easily do it by using the technique described here.

Discover More

Jumping to a Relative Section

Navigating through a long document can be challenging, at times. Here's a way you can move forward or backwards in your ...

Discover More

Graphics and Line Height

If the inline graphics in your document appear "chopped off," it could be directly related to the formatting within the ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (menu)

Word Operates Backwards

What is someone to do when all of a sudden Word starts displaying text from right to left instead of left to right? The ...

Discover More

Keyboard Changes to Unwanted Foreign Language

There you are typing along, minding your own business, when wham! You end up in an entirely different language and you don't ...

Discover More

Selecting a Language

Need to format a paragraph (or some selected text) so that it is a language other than English? You can do so easily by ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two less than 2?

2017-03-06 04:09:22

Tor Schofield

I have tried to change the menu language in Word from Danish to English, but nothing works and selecting English does not change the menu language at all.


2015-06-25 05:30:19

Sergey

Your advise applies to input languages. But, I have Microsoft Word 2003 (version 11) and its interface is in Russian. How do I switch to English? I mean, all the menus are in Russian, and I would like to know how to make them Englsh. Could you help, please?


2013-03-03 19:18:18

Robert

I did what you said in these two articles, with no success. I have Office 2003 installed on an XP Pro laptop that previously belonged to an Estonian speaker. After he gave it to me, I wanted all the programs to be in English (US). i have changed some of them, but not Office. I have only one keyboard layout.
I seem to remember reading somewhere else that you have to open Word and change something in the menu; the problem being that the menu in my case is Estonian, and I cannot understand it.


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.