Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Limiting Spell Checking.

Limiting Spell Checking

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 1, 2015)

When you run the spell checker in Word (or when Word checks your spelling as you type), the words in your document are compared against both the main dictionary and any custom dictionaries you may have opened. (The main dictionary is the one provided by Microsoft; custom dictionaries are those you create by adding your own words.) Sometimes you may not want Word to do this.

For instance, let's say that you have developed a rather extensive dictionary that is very specific to your industry or to your company. The dictionary may contain many specialized terms, but using those terms to spell-check a document you are preparing for your church or civic organization may be inappropriate. If you want to limit Word's spell checker so it only uses the main dictionary—not your custom ones—you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Spelling & Grammar tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Spelling & Grammar tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Suggest From Main Dictionary Only check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (907) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Limiting Spell Checking.

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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