I am fighting a strange spelling/checking problem in MS Word (Office 365). I want Word to catch and underline in red "acknowledgements" (the UK spelling) because I write for USA clients that want to see "acknowledgment."

To complicate things, I live in Canada and so (in theory) my Windows machine wants to use Canadian (UK) English.

So, I have configured Windows and Word/Office to use the US English dictionary ONLY as the default main dictionary. I have added the US spelling of acknowledgment to my CUSTOM.DIC. (I wanted to delete the UK spelling from all dictionaries that I could see, but I could find no instances to delete.)

My current document contains a paragraph that has both US and UK spellings in it. But, Word is accepting both of the spellings. Instead, it should be protesting the UK spelling with a wavy red underline, shouldn't it?

If Word is not flagging "acknowledgement" as a spelling error, then that means Word is looking somewhere (that I can't find) to get a blessing for that spelling, correct?

Usually, when I go through my process for such words (there are more than a few that I've done), Word behaves the way I want and expect it to. But, not in this case.

Does anyone know how I might resolve the problem? Thank you


Language is an attribute of Styles in Word and to ensure that your documents are appropriately written for a given language, you can create custom styles that are marked with a US English Language setting. When using these custom US language styles, a word such as "colour" will be flagged as a spelling error.

Now regarding the word "acknowledgment." From what I understand, in US English "acknowledgment" is preferred but "acknowledgement" is also accepted and that is why it is not being flagged as a spelling error.

If you want the spellchecker to flag "acknowledgement" as invalid, you have to add it to an exclusion dictionary for the language.

The exclusion dictionaries are located here: C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof and the US English exclusion dictionary is named ExcludeDictionaryEN0409.lex

Open it with any text editor, for example NotePad or WordPad. Enter the word(s) to exclude in lowercase and one word per line. Save and close the exclusion dictionary.

Spellchecker will now flag the alternate spelling of acknowledgement.

BTW - Canadian English is ExcludeDictionaryEN1009.lex and UK English is ExcludeDictionaryEN0809.lex

  • Hi @Rich, thank you for your reply. You are correct. Both spellings are acceptable in general, but not to my client. I would love to find the place where I can tell Word that one of them is not acceptable so that I can force the spelling that I want. One of the problems is that I end up with documents with two different spellings, which looks even worse in the client's eyes (and my own, too). My current styles (I have dozens of them) are all marked "US English." Is there any way to disable the unwanted spelling in the US English dictionary? – Kevin Sep 27 '18 at 16:24
  • @Kevin, I edited my answer with a method for you to exclude "acknowledgement" as a valid spelling of the word. – Rich Michaels Sep 27 '18 at 19:06
  • thank you for your process. I easily found the lexer file (does lex take regular expressions in this file too?), but I'm sorry to say that Word still accepted acknowledgement, even after I populated the file correctly and rebooted Word. For some reason, I seem to remember seeing the word "exclusion" in a Word option somewhere, but I can't find it, so maybe I was mistaken. – Kevin Sep 27 '18 at 22:26
  • @Kevin, it takes only words that would otherwise pass the spellcheck. It works fine in my testing, but the document I was using was only US English. Your mixed environment of Canadian and UK English probably complicate the process. There is an add-in called AuthorTec Find'n Highlight that you can do a web search on. Teachers use it to find verbs, adverbs, etc in students papers. You can use it to build custom lists of words and phrases to Find and Highlight in a document. You might check it out ... the add-in is free. – Rich Michaels Sep 28 '18 at 1:21
  • not to worry - I can easily write a VBA macro to process words like acknowledgements and convert them. I was just hoping to get Word to flag the spellings that I didn't like. I don't how much influence my Canadian locale has on spellings and dictionaries - everything I can see (keyboard, dictionaries, default language, etc.) is set to US English. Oh well. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. – Kevin Sep 28 '18 at 16:00

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