In Microsoft Word, If I spell a word in American English, and British English - it accepts both as valid. But I want to tell MS Word to make American English spelling marked as incorrect.

I have my keyboard language (through control panel, my default Microsoft word language (options language) and my proofing language all set to New Zealand English, and still the word spell checker fails to flag realize as an incorrect spelling for realise

  • did you try setting it to British english? – pneumatics Oct 10 '12 at 23:26

Close all Office apps, search for Microsoft Office Language Preferences in the Start Menu, run it and make sure your preferred language is the only one listed under Editing Languages (from inside Word you can access the same dialog via File / Help > Options / Language).

Now type "color colour honor honour realize realise" and you'll see that while some variants are flagged as being incorrect since they clearly belong to American English (including "color", "honor" etc.), others such as "realize" and "realise" are treated as acceptable alternate spellings irrespective of the English dialect selected.

One possible solution could be to create an AutoCorrect rule (under File / Help > Options / Proofing / AutoCorrect Options) to automatically substitute "realize" with "realise".

  • The advice in the first paragraph is wrong: there is no reason to remove editing languages, and it does relate to the problem at hand. – Jukka K. Korpela Oct 11 '12 at 4:30
  • If she has additional editing languages such as English (U.S.) installed, how would it help in this instance to retain them? – Karan Oct 11 '12 at 20:32

The spelling “realize” is an accepted alternative in British English. It is even the recommended spelling according to The Oxford Style Manual.

You can however make an allowed spelling disallowed by MS Word, by adding it to an exclusion dictionary. The following worked in my environment where I have MS Word 2007: I opened the folder C:\Users\Jukka\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof\ (“Jukka” is my user name), and there I opened the file ExcludeDictionaryEN1409.lex in Notepad, after checking from the list Locale IDs Assigned by Microsoft that EN1409 is the Microsoft code for English - New Zealand. I entered the word “realize” (without quotes) in that file, which was initially empty, saved the file. Then I closed and restarted MS Word. Now that I set the text language to English (New Zealand) and type “I did not realize what the color is”, both “realize” and “color” are flagged as incorrect. Before the change, “realize” was accepted, as described in the question.

I learned this from the Office Natural Language Team Blog entry Can I remove a word from Office’s speller dictionary?, which was linked to from the page How to “remove” a word from Word's main spelling dictionary (which contains instructions for older versions of MS Word, too).

Due to the way spelling checks work for English in MS Word (basically simple dictionary lookup, instead of morpheme analysis), you need to add the grammatical forms and derivations of a word separately, so in this case, you would make the file contain

realize realized realizes realizing realization

When I tested things with just “realize” in the file and right-clicked on “realize” marked as misspelled, MS Word showed a list of alternatives containing “realizes” and “realized” too, which was rather misleading. After adding the other forms, MS Word now shows “realise” only as the suggested correction for “realize”.

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