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FAQs: Custom Dictionary & Spelling

  1. Remove words from Custom Dictionary
  2. Changing Dictionary language wipes file clean
  3. Can't add words
  4. Spelling tab grayed out
  5. "Spell check while you type" does not work
  6. English dictionary is losing my custom entries
  7. Entourage 2004 does not retain any of the Spelling options in the preferences pane

Spelling errors are often difficult to solve. Sometimes it just goes away on it's own. If you continue to have problems after trying the solutions below, the best option is to use "Remove Office" and reinstall.

Tip: You can open your dictionary file in preferences, copy the text and then delete the file. When a new file is created, you can paste in the old contents.

Your User Folder/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2008/Custom Dictionary


1) How can you remove words from the Entourage Custom Dictionary?

The custom dictionary that Entourage "borrows" actually lives in Word.

Open Word Preferences ->Spelling & Grammar and then click on Dictionaries. A custom dictionary dialog box will open. Click on Edit. (You'll be told that spell check will be turned off when you do this and that you have to remember to turn it back on when you're done.) A list of all the words you've added to the custom dictionary will open and you can edit from there. Just select a word and delete it.


2) The Custom Dictionary file is wiped clean every time I change Entourage's spelling dictionary language. Is this a bug?

This was a known problem for Entourage X.

Select your Custom Dictionary and change the Language drop-down to "none" or "All languages" (same thing, depending on your version of Word).


3) I can't add words to my custom dictionary. What do I do?

Check in Word to ensure that you have a custom dictionary selected and your Custom Dictionary is the top one in the list. If it isn't, use the buttons to move it up to the top. Make sure language is set to none

Entourage uses the Office custom dictionaries, but it can only use the top one. This is inserted to guarantee Outlook compatibility.

Note: If this does not work, sometimes just restarting Entourage will do the trick.


4) My spelling tab is grayed out! How do I fix this?

  1. Be sure the Custom Dictionary is at the top of the list of dictionaries. Entourage can only access the top dictionary in the list.
  2. Go to MS Word/Preferences/Spelling & Grammar/Custom Dictionary, and browse again to your Custom Dictionary. You're best leaving language as (none).
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. Now, try Entourage again.
  5. See also #5 below

5) My problem is "spell check while you type" does not work and when selecting the spelling tool from the main menu, Entourage goes straight to "spelling check complete". How do I fix this?

Check display font. CE fonts (Monaco CE, Geneva CE, Helvetica CE, Courier CE) can cause the problem. Change to a different font.

Your dictionary file could be corrupted. Open Word. In the Spelling preferences, select the Dictionary and click to edit it. It should open straight in Word. You can make a small edit (anything) and save it.


6) I switch back and forth between English (US), French, Spanish and Italian dictionaries, I have just noticed that English is losing my custom entries. Is there a setting somewhere that I am missing that tells the program to save all my words to custom, even when I switch?

Entourage uses the Custom Dictionary specified in its own Preferences, which, by default, would be the first Custom Dictionary listed in Word's preferences (but you can change it).

Word (and no other Office app) does allow you to make separate Custom Dictionaries to be used with different language settings (i.e. the different language Dictionaries). But if you want your Custom Dictionary to be used over all languages, then you should use only ONE custom dictionary in Word, and have it set to "(none)" for language. Do not make the mistake of setting it to your main language, just leave it (or reset it now) to "(none)". And that's the one you should use in Entourage's prefs.


7) Entourage 2004 does not retain any of the Spelling options in the preferences pane.

This could be a result of improper removal of the Office 2004 Test drive. You can try inserting the 2004 cd and do a custom install of ONLY the proofing tools, or use “Remove Office” then install from CD and update.