Creating a custom lexicon in Word for PC

Creating a custom lexicon will help you maintain consistent word usage and avoid your particular mistakes.

We all have certain words that we continually misspell but which are nevertheless proper words in themselves, such as typing in form instead of from. Then there are the words where multiple spellings are correct — judgement versus judgment, for example — and which thus make consistency of use difficult. One way to circumvent this problem is to build a custom lexicon that will ignore Word’s default dictionaries and treat any word you add to the lexicon as misspelled. Unfortunately for Mac users this only works in PC.

The first time that you set a language in Word it creates an exclusion lexicon file in a hidden folder in your C drive, the AppData (application data) folder. Each dictionary in Word has a corresponding lexicon, for example ExcludeDictionaryENO409.lex is for U.S. English. (Earlier versions of Word used a naming system for the languages instead of numbers.) These lexicons remain empty unless you specifically edit them. Note that this is not the same as the Custom Dictionary that you are already likely familiar with in Word that is accessed through your Word options or preferences; the Custom Dictionary allows you to add words to your dictionary, while the lexicon allows you to subtract words from the dictionary.

Whether or not Word creates a lexicon for a specific language depends on your version. You can tell by clicking on Review > Set Language. Languages with an “ABC” and check mark beside them, indicating spell check is available, will create a custom lexicon. If no symbol is beside the language, a custom lexicon for that language is not supported by your version of Word.

To access a lexicon, first set your system to show hidden folders. When you then look at your C drive in Explorer, these hidden folders appear as a faded icon beside the folder name.

Go to C:\Users\[User]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof, where [User] is your user name. In the UProof folder you will find your default Custom Dictionary (CUSTOM.DIC) and a lexicon for any languages you have used in a document; if a language has not been used in a document, no corresponding lexicon will exist. The following is a list of some of the language codes used in Word:

EN0809: English, United Kingdom
EN0409: English, United States
EN0C09: English, Australia
EN1009: English, Canada
FR0402: French, France
ES0c0a: Spanish, Spain (International)
ES080a: Spanish, Mexico

Click on the lexicon you want to edit. You will likely get a window saying Windows does not know how to open the file and needs you to specify a program. Select Notepad. Notepad will open. Add any words you commonly misspell, or word variations you want to avoid, one word per line. If there are variations of these, add those too. For example, if you prefer to spell judgment without the middle e, do not add only judgement but also judgements and judgemental. Save and close the file.

Close Word and reopen. Type in one of the words you added to your lexicon. You will see it now appears as a misspelled word. This will assist you in maintaining consistency in word usage and alert you to your common errors.

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