Word's language settings (was: A couple of strange ones?)

Subject: Word's language settings (was: A couple of strange ones?)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, "Karen E. Black" <kblack_text -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 10:33:42 -0500

In response to my suggestion that the original poster change the language of the text _in the style definitions_, Karen E. Black suggested: <<Select all text in the document, click Tools > Language > Set Language..., and select the language you want to use. It usually works for me.>>

The key word here is "usually". I used to do this as a quick fix, but found that it fails often enough to be unreliable, and I've largely stopped doing it. The problem is twofold. First, if the document has been set to automatically update styles, then the next time you open it the language settings will all be changed back to the original settings, and the spellcheck problems will reoccur. (For that matter, if you don't want to update the styles--which is often useful but not here--you should make sure this checkbox hasn't been selected: open the Tools menu, select Templates and Add-ins, and make sure that "automatically update" isn't selected.)

Second and more serious, Word makes the reasonable assumption that if you override a paragraph style definition (e.g., to change a font or a language definition midway through a paragraph), you intended to do this, and thus, it won't automatically override this choice. So if (for example) you selected all your Latin words inside a paragraph and defined them using the Latin dictionary, the "select all" approach won't change the dictionary used to spellcheck these words--or at least it generally won't; for reasons that escape me, it sometimes does. You can force Word to remove these manual settings by selecting the entire paragraph and pressing Control-Spacebar, which translates to "remove all formatting not specified by the surrounding style"--but then you lose bold, italics, etc. Not fun.

That's the long way of saying that the better solution is to always redefine the language via the styles, not via the shortcut. Word's styles are sufficiently powerful and useful that it's worth learning how to work with them rather than against them. (Plus, as a bonus, it's good training for some future day when you'll learn Framemaker or XML or SGML.)

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)

RE: A couple of strange ones?: From: Karen E. Black

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