Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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 June 15, 2019)

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 Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or a later version, 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, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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. ...

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