Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Editing the Custom Spelling Dictionaries.

Editing the Custom Spelling Dictionaries

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 19, 2014)


As you use the spell-checking capabilities of Excel, you undoubtedly have added words to your custom dictionary. Normally you do this when you run across a word that the main dictionary does not understand, but which you know is correct. When you click on the Add button in the spell-check dialog box, the word is added to your custom dictionary.

When you add a word to your custom dictionary, it is added to the same custom dictionary that is used by other Office applications, such as Word. This dictionary is nothing but a plain text file that contains the list of added words, one per line. The default name for the custom dictionary is Custom.dic, and you can search for it using the Find feature in Windows.

When you locate the custom dictionary, you can load it into Notepad and make any changes you want. The only thing to be careful about is that you put only one word per line, and that you don't save the file in any format except plain text. This is why it is preferred that you use Notepad to edit the file, rather than a program like Word or Excel.

If you are not comfortable using a text editor to make changes to the dictionary, you can use Excel to make the changes:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Proofing at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Click the Custom Dictionaries button. Excel displays the Custom Dictionaries dialog box.
  4. If there is more than one custom dictionary listed, select the one you want to edit.
  5. Click Edit Word List. Excel displays a dialog box that lists all the words in the custom dictionary. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The custom dictionary editing dialog box.

At this point you can add words to and remove words from the custom dictionary, as desired. When you are done, just close all the dialog boxes and go back to using Excel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6201) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Editing the Custom Spelling 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. ...


Rounding to Even and Odd Values

Want to round values so they are always even or odd? You can do it quickly and easily by using the EVEN and ODD worksheet ...

Discover More

Switching Headers in a Frozen Row

Excel allows you to "freeze" rows in your worksheet. What if you want the rows that are frozen to change as you scroll ...

Discover More

Displaying Edits by Date

Track Changes is a great tool; it allows you to see what changes were made in a document and then determine whether you ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Backing Up Custom Dictionaries

The custom dictionary used in Excel contains the information you decide relative to spelling. After a while, you might ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 1 + 5?

2017-02-22 08:41:30

Jennifer Thomas

I was able to get Excel to accept HSA by doing the following:

Click the path: File | Options | Proofing, and then click the AutoCorrect Options button.

In the Replace field, type HSA; the With field displays 'has'.

Click the Delete button, then click OK to close all dialog boxes.

I hope that works for you, too!

2017-02-21 15:42:22

Amy Payne

I cannot get Excel to take HSA (Health Savings Account)!!!! I have done everything I can think of.... I followed the tip above, and it still is changing HSA to HAS. It is maddening! Excel lets us misspell words all day long, but it won't let me INTENTIONALLY use the abbreviation, HSA! Do you have Bill Gates's phone number? I think I'll call him and give him a piece of my mind. Ha ha.

Any advice you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks!

2015-08-03 12:04:55


Thank you!

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.