Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Editing the Custom Spelling Dictionaries.

Editing the Custom Spelling Dictionaries

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 26, 2015)


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 Word to make the changes. (You can't do it in Excel; it doesn't provide the ability to edit the custom dictionary, even though it uses the same one as Word.) Follow these steps from within Word:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Spelling & Grammar tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Spelling & Grammar tab of the Options dialog box, in Word.

  4. Click on the Dictionaries button (in some versions of Word it is the Custom Dictionary button).
  5. In the list of dictionaries, select the one you want to edit.
  6. Click the Edit or Modify button. The dictionary is opened, as a document, and you can make changes to it.
  7. Close the dictionary document when you are through editing it.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3034) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) 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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What is 4 + 4?

2016-10-26 13:03:40

George F

Thanks for the info on custom.dic ... My problem is I cannot get my old Windows Word 2000 to look back at the original English dictionary. It only looks a my mini custom What should I look for to add it to the file location under the options. I am running the antique office 2000 on windows 10 .

2015-09-27 02:07:59

Mohammad Ahmad

Thank you for the guidance. I needed it most, but was unaware of it.


Mohammad Ahmad

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