Changing to the Right Thesaurus

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 21, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2002 and 2003


David lives in Canada and all documents he opens in Word must conform to Canadian spelling conventions, so he uses the English (Canada) spell checker dictionary. His copy of Word used to use the English (Canada) thesaurus also. David notes that Word mysteriously changed to using the English (UK) thesaurus recently, even though spell checking and other grammar tools all use the proper English (Canada) settings. He's tried to change it back to the English (Canada) thesaurus dictionary, but failed. The English (UK) thesaurus is OK, but David would rather that Word use the English (Canada) thesaurus.

The problem appears to be that Microsoft does not provide a thesaurus for Canadian English. If you press Shift+F7 (to display the Research task pane) and click Research Options at the bottom of the pane, Word displays the Research Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Research Options dialog box.

The dialog box lists all the various languages and tools available in Word. You'll note that there are English thesauri for Australia, the UK, and the US, but not for other English-speaking countries. (I should note that this is the case in my installation of Word; it could be different in your installation.) If you see a thesaurus there for English (Canada), then you could select it so that Word would use it. I have it on good authority from folks in Canada, however, that such an option is not available, even on versions of Word sold in that country. Thus the conclusion that Microsoft does not provide a thesaurus for Canadian English.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8374) applies to Microsoft Word 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. ...


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What is six less than 9?

2021-06-08 05:14:32

John Mayer

I am an individual writing a ;book using Microsoft 365 Word. I was well into writing the book before attempting to set the English USA language to English UK, I keep having to reset it back to UK because it reverts back to USA for no apparent reason. This it not just for spelling by for thesaurus. Can you help? This is very frustrating.

2017-01-30 14:29:59


Go to Review - then Language - then set proofing language and change the default language to whatever you need to translate

2016-03-31 03:59:30


My colleague has similar problem in that they created a document in MS Word on their PC in Germany. While in New Zealand they have re-written the text into English. Now if they use thesaurus (now writing in English) it shows an error looking for a German thesaurus despite it having the local English thesaurus as the default.The spellcheck uses local English dictionary correctly. The user control panel and Office defaults are all for local English.
Any ideas?

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