The other day, I was discussing a number of suggestions to improve Office’s spell-checker. A customer was suggesting we should allow users to delete individual items from Word’s spell-checker lexicon. This feature is already available, in fact: if you want to specify a preferred spelling for a word and to exclude a given spelling from the main lexicon used by the Office speller, you need to use an “exclusion dictionary”. Your speller comes with an empty exclusion dictionary and you can add words to it if you want them to be permanently red-squiggled.

You first need to locate your exclusion dictionary, which, if you use Vista and Office 2007, can be found in the following folder:

C:\Users\User Name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof\

Each language has a specific dictionary whose name starts with “ExcludeDictionary”, followed by the language code (EN for English, FR for French, SP for Spanish, GE for German…), followed by the LCID (locale identification number). The extension is .lex. For instance:

English (US):                 ExcludeDictionaryEN0409.lex

English (UK):                 ExcludeDictionaryEN0809.lex

English (Australia)        ExcludeDictionaryEN0c09.lex

English (Canada)          ExcludeDictionaryEN1009.lex

French:                          ExcludeDictionaryFR040c.lex

 

You can open the file with Notepad or WordPad and add a word which you want the speller to flag as misspelled. Save and close the file. You are done!

 

You can type “exclude dictionary” or “exclusion dictionary” in the Office help to get more information about this feature.

Of course, caution should be exercised when you decide to remove a word from your Office speller. If you decide to remove the word manger because you frequently type program manger instead of program manager, you should not be surprised when your speller flags manger in a sentence like “Jesus was laid in a manger”. This is why we have introduced a contextual speller, which tries to identify words which exist but are misspelled in a given context (see the post I was referring to, in which I showed how Office 2007 flags some erroneous uses of manger in program manger).

To give another example where contextual spelling might be preferred over exclusion, consider the user who had contacted the Word newsgroup to find out how to exclude the word “ahs” from the main speller lexicon. This user kept typing ahs instead of has. The new context-sensitive speller in Office 2007 flags a number of contexts where "ahs" should not be used, however, which should address this user's problem without having to remove the word altogether from the lexicon. You will see a blue squiggly line under "ahs" if you write something like "He ahs never done it before", for instance. But you will not get any flag under "ahs" if you write "we definitely got oohs and ahs all around when we launched this product".

Thierry Fontenelle – Program Manager