Quickly Switching Languages

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 17, 2014)

Word includes the capability to modify certain writing tools based on which international tools you have installed and which language you choose from the appropriate menus in the program. Word is so well versed in international issues, however, that it can be very bothersome to change from one language to another. For instance, depending on the version of Word you are using, there can be 80 languages listed in the program menus, including 9 variations of English, 20 of Spanish, and 5 of French.

In Word 2000, the Language dialog box (choose Tools | Language | Set Language) shows the last-set languages in the little area at the top of the drop-down list. This allows you to always see the last several languages you selected at the top of the list and select them as needed, much the same as the Font drop-down list on the Formatting toolbar. This feature, however, is new in Word 2000, and is not available in older versions.

Even so, it can still be bothersome to perform five clicks to set a language. (Three clicks to display the Language dialog box, one to choose a language, and one to dismiss the dialog box.) If you want a quicker solution, the best bet is to simply create macros that invoke each of the languages you use. For instance, if you work in English, French, Spanish, and German, you could create four macros--one to set each of the languages. The macros could then be assigned to buttons on a custom toolbar, thereby streamlining your language-switching task to a single keystroke.

In order to create the various macros, you could use the macro recorder to record your steps as you select a language. If you feel comfortable creating macros from scratch, however, you could create a simple macro such as the following:

Sub SetLanguageFrench()
    Selection.LanguageID = wdFrench
    Selection.NoProofing = False
End Sub

To use a different language, simply change the wdFrench keyword to one of the other language-specific keywords understood by VBA. (You can find a complete list of the keywords by looking under the LanguageID Property topic in the online Help system for VBA.) To use the macros, all you need to do is select the text you want to designate as being in a particular language, and then click on the appropriate tool.

If you find yourself doing a lot of clicking, and you are only switching languages for entire paragraphs, then another solution is to set up paragraph styles in your template. You could set up one style for your English text, one for your German text, and so on. All you need to do, then, is apply the appropriate style to the various paragraphs in your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1506) applies to Microsoft Word , , , , and .

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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