All over the world, people are using Microsoft Word and other word processing applications with the wrong dictionary, the most common offender being UK English users that have the American English dictionary, or vice versa. So colour becomes colour and you have z popping up all over the place when it should be an s. Microsoft Word also sometimes has a habit of setting everything in every Office product as UK English except the Auto-correct option in Word, which sticks at American English. This can be because your Set language dialogue (or is that dialog?) has the Detect language Automatically box ticked, so it’s worth trying un-ticking this first.


It isn’t enough to tell Word you want UK English as your default language, you have to tell it you want UK English as your Proofing Language, so try right clicking on any word with the red squiggly line under it and select Language and Set Proofing Language, then change it to UK English or whatever your preference is.

What if you find yourself habitually using words that your word processor refuses to recognise? You may write a lot of technical or specialist articles that contain quite unusual non-dictionary terms or acronyms, did you know you can use custom dictionaries? Often they have already been created by someone in a similar situation to you. In Word try Tools, Options, Spelling and Grammar and choose Custom Dictionaries. From here you can add in custom dictionaries that you or others have created.

Over time you can create your own custom dictionaries by letting Word know any specialist terms you use, don’t fall into the habit of using the ignore option for years on end, invest a little time in letting your word processor know the words only you seem to know and you can save this growing list as your very own custom dictionary.

The simple golden rule is, if you find yourself either manually correcting or habitually ignoring the spell check on your word processor, you either can’t spell or you need to sort your dictionary out, it only takes seconds and you will never have to apologise (or possibly apologize) for your spelling ever again.

[Image via Russ Payne]