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: Merging Custom Dictionaries.

Merging Custom Dictionaries

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 19, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Leonard knows how to back up any custom dictionaries that he creates. He wonders, however, if there is a way to merge custom dictionaries from two different computers.

There is no automatic way to merge them, but it can easily be done. The key is to remember that custom dictionaries are nothing but text files. Simply open both of them in a text editor, such as Notepad, and then copy the words from one dictionary file to the other. That's really it; you are done.

Since custom dictionaries are text files, you need to be careful with them. You don't want to open them in Word and inadvertently save them out as Word documents. If you do, then they won't work any more. (This is why I said to use Notepad. You thereby remove the risk of corrupting the dictionary by saving it in a non-text format.)

You may wonder about duplicates in your combined dictionary file or about sorting the words. Quite honestly, Word doesn't seem to care about either of them. If there are duplicates, then Word ignores them. Word also apparently sorts the words internally, so there is no need to do so. If you decide you want to get rid of duplicates in the combined dictionary file, you can take time to sort them so that detecting the duplicates is easier. Simply open the dictionary in Notepad, copy all the words into a blank Word document where you can sort and edit the file, and then copy the shortened (and ordered) word list back into the Notepad file.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7599) 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: Merging 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. ...


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What is two more than 9?

2022-12-08 11:41:17


One thing I'm uncertain of: are multiple custom dictionaries additive, assuming they are an active selection in the Dictionaries dialog window? In other words, if I have 2 custom dictionaries, and one dictionary contains an added word and the other does not, does Word look at both dictionaries when running spell check and WON'T flag a term that exists only in 1 dictionary?

For context, I work for a company that deals with medical literature and a lot of client names, so we have a massive internal custom dictionary that I've built up over the years. This text file is pushed out to employees via housekeeping script and plugs into the dictionary list. I also have my own local custom dictionary that I add to frequently. When I inspect the list of dictionaries, I can see my local dictionary and the company-specific one are both visible and checked under the "All Languages" heading in the Dictionaries dialog box. So if I have a term in my local dictionary that hasn't yet been added to the company one, Word would not flag this as a spelling error, correct? And similarly, if I've added a term to the company dictionary that a different user has not added locally, spell check would also NOT flag the term in the company dictionary, right?

We've had some issues lately with spell check not working out of the blue (not catching terms in either my local custom dictionary or the company one) and I'm just making certain that the separate dictionaries are NOT the problem, as I want broad coverage as possible for all users.

2015-12-31 08:44:15


In response to William, 30De15, who asks about a dictionary to look up word meanings in MS Word: "dictionary" as used here means simply a list of words, used for checking spelling (more accurately a "lexicon"). To look up meanings I expect there are downloadable dictionaries; and there are lots of online dictionaries (requiring Internet access) where words can easily be looked up. There may be some tools that integrate into MS Word to give a definition on a click. But that's not what this page is about. I'd do a search for something like <lookup word meanings OR definitions "ms office">.

2015-12-30 17:33:14



I have visited your website soon,

Qn.can I have a dictionary that can be merged together for instance with a word document? in case that if I want the meaning of the word I just click it to follow it easily?

Thanks and


2015-12-30 12:05:35


This doesn't say where the text file can actually be found.

2014-08-16 08:27:17


With small effort there are tools to combine, sort, and remove duplicates from a text file. It's worth learning how to use some Unix tools that have been ported to Windows, and can be downloaded free of charge. In particular, "cat" will concatenate (join) several files; then "sort" will sort the merged result alphabetically; and "uniq" will remove duplicates, leaving only unique lines.

I combined personal dictionaries for several programs with a single command, which took about 2 minutes to write and worked first time (you have to download the 3 programs first). Copy the 3 program files and the dictionaries to combine in the same directory, open a Windows command prompt (CMD) there (or a Linux shell), and type

cat persdict.dat en_GB.usr standard.dic | sort | uniq > mydic.txt

It will create a single combined dictionary called mydic.txt from the 3 files, sorted case-insensitively and without duplicates. This file can be copied over the individual dictionaries for the different programs.

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