How to Spellcheck Text in Two Languages in Word

A translator colleague recently asked in a Facebook group how to spellcheck text in two languages at once in Word. Specifically, she was trying to keep the main document in English but set the comments to French.

Is it even possible, she wondered? Of course it is!

laptop, how to spellcheck text in two languages in word

The Problem

We need to leave the proofing language of the main text as English but set the proofing language of the comments to French. We don’t want to manually set the proofing language of each comment to French. Quelle horreur !

(In case you’re wondering why you’d want to do this, translators often include foreign-language comments for their clients.)

The Solution

Use styles in Word to set the language of the comments to French. (Or Spanish or Chinese or… )

Read on to learn how to spellcheck text in two languages in MS Word.

Note: Word can only run spell- and grammar-check for a language if proofing tools for that language are installed. If proofing tools for your language are missing, you can download them from Microsoft’s support site.

The steps below are for users running Word for Mac. (Windows-specific notes are in parentheses.)

Step 1: Open the Styles Pane

In the Home tab, click Styles Pane. (If you’re on a Windows machine, click on the arrow in the lower righthand corner of the Styles Pane to open up all options.)

Step 2: Display All Styles

In the List: dropdown box, choose “All Styles.” (In Windows, select “Manage Styles,” which is a button with a pencil icon on it.)

how to spellcheck text in two languages, Step 2 (choose "All Styles")[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Step 3: Modify Style for Comment Text

    1. Find the style called Comment Text. (In Windows, you can sort alphabetically, which is much better than in Word for Mac. You have to scroll and look for it. Do better, developers!)
    2. Click the down arrow within the style name and choose Modify Style. (In Windows, click Modify.)how to spellcheck text in two languages, Step 3.2 (choose "Modify Style")
    3. From the dropdown box in the lower lefthand corner (which displays Format by default), select Language.
    4. Choose “French” (or the desired language).

Step 4: Run Spellcheck

When you add a comment, the language for the comment will default to French (or whatever language that you chose in Step 3).

  1. Run the spell- and grammar-check as you normally would. The tool will check your main document using English as the proofing language. Then, when it checks the comments, it will use French.
  2. Pause to reflect on the exhilaration you’re feeling. That’s Word mastery!

How to Spellcheck Text in Two Languages (Body Text)

What if you need to spellcheck text in two languages within the main document? Then what?

Again, we can use styles in Word. We can style some text as English and other text as French (or Spanish or Chinese… ).

  1. Put your cursor anywhere in your English text. (Doing this saves you a step. We want the attributes for our foreign-language text to mirror those of our English text—except for the language, of course).
  2. In the Home tab, open the Styles Pane.
  3. Click New Style.
  4. Give your style a name, e.g., “French body text.”
  5. From the dropdown box in the lower lefthand corner (which displays Format by default), select Language.
  6. Tick the “Add to Quick Style list” checkbox. Click “OK.”how to spellcheck text in two languages (main text)

Anytime you need text to be set to French within your document, select your newly created style (“French body text”) from the Quick Style list. Voilà !

Pro tip: Set up a shortcut key for your foreign-language style in Word. (It’s the last option in the dropdown box above.) Then when you need to apply that style to a block of text, you can just press a key combination (say, Cmd + 1) instead of moving and clicking your mouse multiple times.

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