The spellchecker in Microsoft Word is a useful tool (even if it can\u2019t replace proofreading). However, to make the most of this tool, you may need to check its settings. And in this post, to help out, we\u2019re looking at three ways of customizing the spellchecker in Microsoft Word:\n\n\n \tSetting the proofing language\n \tAdding and ignoring specific terms via the contextual menus\n \tEditing and creating custom dictionaries\n\nRead on to make sure that you can use the spellchecker to maximum effect.\n\n1. Setting the Proofing Language\nThe simplest way to customize the spellchecker in MS Word is to change the proofing language. If you are writing for a U.S. audience, for example, you will want to use American English. This will make sure the spellchecker looks for U.S. spellings (e.g., color instead of the U.K. English colour).\nTo check the proofing language in Microsoft Word, all you need to do is:\n\n\n \tSelect the text you want to spellcheck (use Ctrl + A to select all text)\n \tLook for the current language on the status bar\n\n[caption id="attachment_28398" align="alignnone" width="566"] The status bar in MS Word, including the proofing language.[\/caption]\nAnd if you need to change the language setting:\n\n\n \tSelect the text you want to spellcheck\n \tGo to Review > Language > Proofing Language on the main ribbon (or Tools > Language in Word for Mac)\n \tIn the new window that opens, select the language required and click OK\n\n[caption id="attachment_16255" align="aligncenter" width="340"] Selecting the proofing language.[\/caption]\nThis will change the proofing language used for the selected text.\n\n2. Adding and Ignoring Terms\nAs well as changing the proofing language, you can add individual terms to the spellchecker dictionary. This is useful when Microsoft Word does not recognize a proper noun or a technical term, as the spellchecker will underline it in red even if it is spelled correctly.\nFor instance, if we were writing about the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, we may need to use his surname a lot. And while Microsoft Word does recognize some famous or common names, it marks \u201cRicoeur\u201d as an error. So if we want to use the spellchecker, we will need to fix this.\nTo do so, we can right click the underlined term and select Add to Dictionary. It will then be added to the dictionary for all documents.\n\n\n[caption id="attachment_16258" align="aligncenter" width="528"] Adding a term to the custom dictionary.[\/caption]\nIf you don\u2019t want to make a permanent change, you can tell the spellchecker to ignore words. For instance, you can click Ignore while running a spellcheck to overlook a single term. But you can also click Ignore All to stop the spellchecker from highlighting the term anywhere in the document.\n\n3. Customizing the Spellchecker\nFinally, for complete control over the spellchecker, you can edit your dictionary. This \u201ccustom dictionary\u201d includes any terms that you have selected via the Add to Dictionary option mentioned above. But you can also add and remove terms from the dictionary by:\n\n\n \tGoing to File > Options > Proofing (or Preferences > Spelling & Grammar in Word for Mac if you are not using a Windows computer)\n \tClicking Custom Dictionaries\n \tSelecting your custom dictionary (usually named CUSTOM.DIC)\n \tClicking Edit Word List\n \tAdding or removing terms as required and clicking OK to confirm\n\n[caption id="attachment_16261" align="aligncenter" width="606"] Editing the custom dictionary.[\/caption]\nYou can also import and create custom dictionaries for particular documents by clicking New or Add in this menu. This can be useful when working to a specific style guide, allowing you to quickly import saved spellings.