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: Editing Custom Dictionaries.

Editing Custom Dictionaries

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 8, 2017)

As you use the spell-checking capabilities of Word, you undoubtedly have added words to your custom dictionary. Normally you do this when you run across a word that the main dictionary does not understand, but which you know is correct. When you click on the Add button in the spell-check dialog box, the word is added to your custom dictionary.

You can edit the custom dictionary by following these steps in Word 2003:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Spelling & Grammar tab is displayed.
  3. Click on the Custom Dictionaries button. Word displays the Custom Dictionaries dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Custom Dictionaries dialog box.

  5. In the list of dictionaries, select the one you want to edit.
  6. Click on the Modify button. Word displays a dialog box showing the words in the dictionary. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. Editing a custom dictionary.

  8. To add words, enter a word at the top of the dialog box and click Add.
  9. To delete words, select the word in the list, then click Delete.
  10. Close all the open dialog boxes when you are done editing.

If you are using an older version of Word, then these steps will do:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Spelling & Grammar tab is displayed.
  3. Click on the Dictionaries button.
  4. In the list of dictionaries, select the one you want to edit.
  5. Click on the Edit button. The dictionary is opened, as a document, and you can make changes to it.
  6. Close the dictionary document when you are through editing it.

Regardless of the version of Word you are using, it is interesting to note that custom dictionaries are simply text files. This means you can also edit them by using a different text editor, such as Notepad. In order to find the dictionaries, simply look in the directory where the custom dictionaries are stored. (You can figure out where this is by carefully examining the dialog boxes displayed in the above steps.) The dictionaries are nothing but a list of words that the spell-check should consider as acceptable. You can add words to the dictionary as needed, or delete words that never should have been added in the first place.

Note that when you edit a custom dictionary in Word 97 or Word 2000, automatic spell-checking is turned off. In order to again enable automatic spell-checking, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. This displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Spelling & Grammar tab is displayed.
  3. Make sure the Check Spelling as You Type check box is selected.
  4. Click on OK to close the Options dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1038) 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: Editing Custom Dictionaries.

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

Dealing with the X of Y Bug

Have you ever printed a document, only to see that the page numbers are incorrect on the printout? If so, it could be due to ...

Discover More

Deriving Antilogs

Creating math formulas is a particular strong point of Excel. Not all the functions that you may need are built directly into ...

Discover More

Resetting Hyperlink to Original Color

When you click a hyperlink in a Word document, the color of the hyperlink changes. If you want to change the color back to ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Cannot Add Words to Dictionary

We all run across words that are spelled correctly, but that Word isn't aware of. The solution is to add those words to the ...

Discover More

Adding Ampersands to Custom Dictionaries

It appears that Word doesn't allow you to define custom dictionary entries that include ampersands. There are ways you can ...

Discover More

Symbols in Words Added to the Dictionary

Adding special characters to otherwise normal words, such as a company name, may be necessary. However, this could affect how ...

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 8Mpixels. 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 eight more than 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.