Custom Dictionary shoot-out

What wins in a conflict between custom and exclusion dictionaries?

In we’ve talked about the custom dictionary (which lets you add words to the Office dictionary) and the exclusion dictionary (which removes words that would otherwise be considered OK.

But what happens if a word is in both the custom and exclusion dictionary? That can happen by accident.

So we tested using Word 2010, the US English dictionary doesn’t recognize the term ‘lurgi’ coined by the late great Spike Milligan.

Then added the same word to the exclusion dictionary, restarted Word to see the result:

Lurgi in Word image from Custom Dictionary shoot-out at

With ‘lurgi’ in both the custom and exclusion dictionary – the word shows up with a red squiggly underline.

The exclusion dictionary will ‘overrule’ both the main and custom dictionaries. A word in the exclusion list will always get the red squiggly line.

Finally, you’ll notice that the last example above had the word ‘format’ also marked as a bad spelling. We did that because there’s no direct way to see if there’s an exclusion dictionary active in Office. The Proofing | Custom Dictionaries dialog shows the custom dictionaries in effect but not exclusion dictionaries.

So we temporarily added a common word to the exclusion dictionary – if that word gets a red squiggly, we know the exclusion file is working.

If you’re wondering, yes, it is strange that such a workaround is necessary in Office.