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Word 2007 Document Language Change

October 21, 2009

I frequently have to switch between working on documents for a UK/NZ/US audience, and often want to change the document’s language to match.

Spelling has never been an issue for me, but there’s something just wrong with having the document set to a language different to what you’re writing.  Words like ‘colour’ and ‘neighbour’ get the annoying red squiggle, and it’s irritating that real typos get mixed in with the (ahem) original English spellings of words.  Every now and then I have to work out how to beat this, and I always forget, so think of this as a note-to-self that may be useful to others too.

Some googling will tell you that the most common solution is to do a select-all (ctrl-A), then use the language selector in the status bar (or in the Review ribbon).  This only sets the selected text, though, and you’ll have to re-do it every time you add new text.  How could that ever be good enough?

Another solution you’ll see is to change the default language for the Normal template by clicking the ‘Default…’ button in the language dialog.  As far as I know, this will affect all new documents from that point on – obviously crazy talk.

Fortunately, there’s a way that feels a lot more right, in that it changes the entire document (but just the current document), and any new text that you add.  It’s easy to do at any time during the document editing process, and you don’t have to keep reapplying it.

It just boils down to changing the Normal style for the current document. Not for the next document, or all future documents, or all the documents in your housing subdivision… just for this one.  Steps are easy:

1. From the ‘Home’ ribbon, open the style editor:

Open the Style Editor

Open the Style Editor

2. Modify the Normal style:

Modify the Normal Style

Modify the Normal Style

3. Change the language:

Change the language

Change the language

Select the language you need, and you’ll notice that it appears in the description of the style (see the screenshot above).  A nice side affect is that most (all?) of the other styles are based on Normal, so they get the change too.

Finally, just OK your way back out to the document.

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