A spelling exclusion list is a list of words you can force Word to flag as misspelled, even when they are listed in the main dictionary as correctly spelled words. We will show you how to add a custom list of words you want to always flag as misspelled.

For example, if you tend to type “suing” rather than “using”, or “parent” rather than “patent”, the normal spell check will think “suing” and “parent” are correctly spelled words, when that’s rarely what you meant to type. Or perhaps you are following style guidelines and using specific spellings of words, such as “theatre” instead of “theater”. In these examples, you would add the words “suing”, “parent”, and “theater” to the exclusion list so they are excluded from the main dictionary and flagged as misspelled no matter what.

Flagging words as misspelled doesn’t mean they will be automatically corrected. If you actually did mean to use one of those words in any specific instance, you can choose whether to ignore the word each time the spell check flags it. The exclusion list is a roundabout way of “removing” words from Word’s main dictionary.

Exclusion list files are standard text files. You can edit them with any text editor like Notepad, or even Word itself (as long as you save it in a text only format). When you installed Word, at least one exclusion list file was created. These files are initially empty, waiting for you to add words to them. Our exclusion list files are located in the following location on our Windows 10 system. Replace “Lori” with your user name on your system.


Depending on your version of Windows, the location of your exclusion list files may be different. If you’re not sure where to find your exclusion list files, you can search for the files in a File Explorer (or Windows Explorer) window. All the files will start with “ExcludeDictionary” and end with the extension “.lex”. So, if you search for “ExcludeDictionary*.lex”, you should find the files (that’s an asterisk after “ExcludeDictionary”).

Once you’ve found the location of your exclusion list files, you may see multiple files. How can you tell which one to use? The file name is structured to help you determine exactly that. The main part of the file name includes a two-character language code, such as “EN” for English and “FR” for French. After the language code, there are four alphanumeric (hexadecimal) digits called a “language LCID”. This indicates which dialect of the specified language that exclusion file covers. There is a complete list of language LCID codes, however that list doesn’t include the language codes. There is a list that includes language codes, but it is not as complete as the previous list.

We found two files on our system as shown on the image below. We only have one English file, but there could have been more than one file with “EN” in the name. If that were the case, we would refer to the last four characters in the first part of the file name (before the extension) and match up those characters with the “Language – Country/Region” items in the list of language LCID codes to find the file you should use. In our example, “EN” is the language code and “0409” is the language LCID for United States English, so we’re going to use the “ExcludeDictionaryEN0409.lex” file.

Once you’ve determined which exclusion list file to use, right-click on the file and select “Open with” from the popup menu.

A dialog box displays asking how you want to open the file. Click “More apps”.

Scroll down in the list and select “Notepad”. If you always want to use Notepad to edit “.lex” files, click the “Always use this app to open .lex files” check box so there is a check mark in the box. Then, click “OK”.

The exclusion list file opens and is initially empty. Type the words you want to add to your exclusion list, putting one word on each line. Make sure you include all forms of the word you want Word to flag as being misspelled. For example, we included three forms of the word “theater” and two forms of “parent”.

When you’re done adding to the list, save the file.

If you’ve had Word open while changing the exclusion list file, the changes won’t take effect yet. You must close Word and reopen it for Word to recognize the newly added contents of the exclusion list file.

When any of the words in the exclusion list are found and flagged while performing a spell check, you may not be able to select the correct spelling. However, if you have the option enabled that automatically checks your spelling as you type, you will see red squiggly lines under the words you added to the exclusion list file, allowing you to notice these words in your document and change them.

RELATED: How to Use Custom Dictionaries in Word 2013

Another way to customize Word’s spell check tool is to use custom dictionaries. These are text files that allow you to add words the spell checker that are not in the main dictionary but you don’t want Word flagging as misspelled. You can also limit spell checking to the main dictionary only. This is useful if you’ve created custom dictionaries that you don’t want to use currently but you don’t want to delete either.

Profile Photo for Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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