How to tell Microsoft Office that a word is NOT spelled correctly

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Joe Winograd, EE Fellow 2017, MVE 2016, MVE 2015
50+ years in computer industry. Everything from development to sales. CIO. Document imaging. EE MVE 2015, EE MVE 2016, EE FELLOW 2017.
This Experts Exchange video Micro Tutorial shows how to tell Microsoft Office that a word is NOT spelled correctly. Microsoft Office has a built-in, main dictionary that is shared by Office apps, including Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word. When an Office module, such as MS Word, gives us the red squiggly underline signifying a misspelled word, yet it really is spelled correctly (such as a proper noun), we're all familiar with how to add it to the custom dictionary, that is, simply right-click the word and select Add to Dictionary. But suppose we type in a word that does not get the red squiggly underline, that is, Word thinks it is spelled correctly, yet we do not like that spelling, and we want Word (and other Office apps) to flag it as a misspelling. This video explains a Microsoft supported technique for achieving that.

Video Steps

1. Locate the ExcludeDictionary file

Exit all Office apps.

Using Windows/File Explorer (or whatever file manager you prefer), navigate to this file:


Of course, <username> is your user name (in my video, it is Joe). The exact name of the file will vary depending on your language and Office version, but it will begin with ExcludeDictionary and have a LEX file extension.


2. Open the ExcludeDictionary file

Using Notepad (or whatever plain text editor you prefer), open the ExcludeDictionary file, which will be empty the first time you open it. If you do a File>Open, make sure that All Files is selected, since it is a LEX file, not a TXT file. Another technique is simply to drag-and-drop it from your file manager into your text editor.


3. Enter words in the ExcludeDictionary file

Enter the words that you want Office to consider NOT spelled correctly into the ExcludeDictionary file, each word on a separate line.


4. Save the modified ExcludeDictionary file and test

Save the modified ExcludeDictionary file.

Open Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, or whatever Office app you want to test, and type in the words that you entered in the ExcludeDictionary file. They should now be flagged as misspelled.

If you find this video to be helpful, please click the thumbs-up icon below. Thank you for watching!
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Expert Comment

Joe, this is a great tip and very clearly presented.

I notice I have multiple .lex files, apparently for various languages (EN, FR, GE, etc). However, I also have multiple EN files: EN0409.lex, EN0809.lex, EN1009.lex. They are all empty. Do you know why this would be, and how I would know which one to use?

LVL 58
Hi Bill,
First, thanks for the compliment — I appreciate it! The two-letter code is for Language and the four-character code is what Microsoft calls the Locale ID (in the LEX file name, it is in hexadecimal). For example, EN is English, while 1009 is English/Canada, 0809 is English/United Kingdom, 0409 is English/United States, etc. Likewise, FR is French, DE is German, ES is Spanish, etc. The two-letter codes follow the ISO 639-1 standard:

You don't really need both the two-letter code and four-character code, since the latter embodies both the language and the region, but I guess Microsoft wants to give us a visual indicator in the file name on its language without having to look up the hexadecimal Locale IDs, which are here:

The first Locale ID column in that list is hexadecimal, which is what MS uses in the LEX file name (the second Locale ID column in that list is decimal).

So, back to your question. The reason you have those three LEX files is that you've utilized English for Canada (1009), UK (0809), and US (0409). You would use the LEX file that makes sense for the document(s) you're editing. Regards, Joe

Expert Comment

Thank you for the detail and writing it in an understandable way.

Based on your information, I played around with the various English files and my locale and language settings and saw it work as you suggested. I also found that it is safe to simply delete the files, and let Office recreate the appropriate one when it performs a spell check.
LVL 58
You're welcome, Bill. I'm glad to hear that it works for you. And thanks to you for determining that it is safe to delete the LEX file(s) — that Office will re-create the appropriate one when it performs a spell check. I hadn't tried that — very good to know! Regards, Joe

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