We continue our look at custom dictionaries. by exploring a sort of “anti-dictionary:” the exclude dictionary.
Another sort of custom dictionary is the “exclude” dictionary. As you might infer from the name, this is a list of words you want excluded from spellcheck’s dictionary. That means, it’s a list of words that will always be marked as incorrectly spelled.
For me, my exclude dictionary includes the misspelling of my last name because Montgomery with a Y is correct and common, but it is not how I spell my name. I want Montgomery with a Y to always be flagged as misspelled. If it’s not flagged, I risk sending out documents that have my own name misspelled. Because, while I am a certified copyeditor, I’m also both human and seek to automate everything I can for the sake of consistency, efficacy, and efficiency.
Spelling variants are another excellent thing to put in your exclude dictionaries. When the style sheet says that foetus is the preferred spelling, adding fetus to the exclude dictionary means that the word missing the letter O will be caught by the system.
How to Add Words to the Exclude Dictionary
There is a lot of variety in how this works. It depends on your particular version of Word and on whether you use Mac or Windows. It’s only since 2014 or so that this was available on the Mac system. For specific instructions, search online for “exclude dictionary” and the particular version of Word you are using.
This is one system that the Mac version does better than the Windows version of Word. In the Windows version of Word, you need to either find where the dictionary files are stored in the file tree and save the file there or enter the words one by one in the dialog box. The Mac version of Word lets you add an entire file in one click.
The process is the same as creating a custom dictionary except that you select “exclude dictionary” when creating the new file. The file is still created using plain text, with each entry on a separate line, then saved with a .dic extension (that’s the file type).
Note that Word turns off “spellchecking as you type” when you are working on the dictionaries. Be sure to return to preferences or options and turn that feature back on.
Using Multiple Dictionaries
Exclude dictionaries are counted in the total number of dictionaries used. You can use up to 10 dictionaries and exclude dictionaries at once.
Note that custom dictionaries and exclude dictionaries don’t travel with the file. That means that others who open a file (the author, for example) will get different results when they run spellcheck.
It is possible to distribute the .dic files—both custom dictionaries and exclude dictionaries—so that all users have the same spellcheck. Each user needs to install those files on their own system and select them to use in the spellcheck.
You know Spellcheck, and in the previous post you learned about running and rerunning spellcheck as well as what readability statistics are about. In the post before that, we talked about spellcheck’s language preferences and how to control them. Log in to leave a comment, or join the discussion over on Facebook or Twitter.