Changing the language in Word comment boxes

07 Nov

I have already published a detailed post on how to customise your comment boxes/balloons. This issue came up for me the other day, and I wanted to note down some quick instructions. Please note these instructions are for Word 2010 and upwards for Windows and may not work in other versions.

Why are my comment balloons in a different language?

In my case, I was running a final spell-check over a document when I suddenly realised that my comment balloons were in Australian English (I realised this when the spell-checker switched over to Australian English while taking exception to a word I had not, in fact, mis-typed).

Why would this be? Well, the formatting of the comment balloons comes under its own Style, separate from normal text, so at some stage this document, or the computer it came from, or the template the author was using, had come to have Australian English as the comment box language.

How did I get it back to UK English?

How do I change the comment balloon language?

Follow the normal steps for updating the comment balloon style, so get to the styles menu by

  • Pressing Control + Alt + Shift + s all at the same time
  • Making sure you’re in the Home tab and click on the little tiny arrow at the bottom right of the Styles menu

This gives you the Styles dialogue box.

Using either of these methods, you will bring up the Styles dialogue box.

Click on the rightmost button: Manage Styles to bring up the next box: Manage Styles. To get to Comment Balloons: click on the down arrow to change As Recommended to Alphabetical:

Once you’ve got the list into alphabetical order, find Comment text, and then click on the Modify button.Β 

Click the Format button and choose Language

And change the language:

And then all the OK buttons to get back.

You can also choose whether this change applies only to this document, or to all documents based on this template, and add it to your Quick Styles list if you want:

Press the OK button, and carry on pressing OK buttons until you get back to your document. Now your comment box language will be whatever you asked it to be!

Why not take a look at these related topics, which should help you further?

Customising comments balloons

What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left

Customising Track Changes

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. Find all the short cuts here

Do let me know if this has helped you, saved your bacon, etc. – and do share with the buttons at the bottom of this article.


Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

51 responses to “Changing the language in Word comment boxes

  1. Wagner Fontes

    September 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Finally I found a decent tutorial on how to change this. I exchange documents with people from many other Countries and it was quite annoying to have a different spell checker for each document in the comments box.

    Just another question: This procedure did not change the language to the comments already added (it affects only new commnets). Is it possible to change the language of all existing comments in a document?

    Thank you very much!


    • Liz at Libro

      September 12, 2013 at 5:06 am

      Thank you for your comment and I’m glad that you’ve found the article useful. Two options to try: 1. click into a comment, highlight them all using the highlight button or another means, then apply the change; 2. create a new document, set up the comments language as you wish, then paste your document into it. Let me know if either of these work for you!


  2. Stephen

    June 20, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Thanks for this. WHY would this happen in the first place?


    • Liz at Libro

      June 20, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Who knows – that’s the case with many of these posts, c.f. “Why are my comment boxes in Word tiny” [all of a sudden when I did nothing to make this happen myself].


  3. Sally

    August 13, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Oh bliss – at long last an answer to a problem that has long bugged me and I’ve never been able to find out how to fix it. In answer to Stephen, my guess is that the person who made the document in the first place was working on a computer set up in a different country and while they used the ‘Language’ button to format the text in English it doesn’t affect the comments, a glitch that Microsoft needs to address.
    Thank you Liz!


  4. Liliana

    April 25, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Hi. Thanks for the explanation. I have tried all of that and still my comments come up in this weird language! It’s impossible for me to use it because it turns into Persian and apparently that’s written from right to left, whereas I was trying to write Portuguese and that’s written from left to right…
    I honestly don’t know what’s wrong. Could I be missing something else? I have already tried changing styles and even making my own style and this still happens.
    Thank you.


  5. Colin Sutcliffe

    September 1, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Hi Liz – I can change the language of the comment boxes, but the default button is greyed out. Regardless of whether I check the box “apply to all documents in the same format”, it always defaults back to Turkish. I’m pulling my hair out on this one – any ideas?


    • Liz Dexter

      September 4, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      Hm, that is a tricky one. You might need to look at the languages you have enabled and apply English as your default language for Word itself rather than just comment boxes. I assume you’re not in Turkey and it’s not a version of Word bought in Turkey?


  6. neilheckman

    March 9, 2016 at 6:53 pm



  7. Mary Davis

    May 5, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Brilliant! I have been trying to change the language for the comments. It was Portuguese (Brazil)!! Thanks so much


  8. Leonardo Shibata

    August 25, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Like! Who would thought one have to take some many steps in order to change that! Thank you!


  9. SpellQuiz (@SpellQuiz)

    June 3, 2017 at 7:09 am

    I am using 3 languages, great thanks for your explanations, very helpful.


  10. Wouter

    July 11, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Very helpful, thank you!


  11. Pedro

    August 11, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Thank you very much! Just what I need and perfectly explained!


  12. Susan Reed

    November 9, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    MANY thanks. Such a relief to be able to fix this!


  13. Z.T

    December 11, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. I tried finding this on my own, but it never occurred to me to look in Styles (I was playing around in Options). Much much appreciate this post.


    • Liz Dexter

      December 11, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      You’re welcome, glad I could help!


      • Z.T

        December 11, 2017 at 10:30 pm

        I don’t know why my comment went from ‘I very much appreciate’ to ‘much much appreciate’ , but I’m owning it πŸ™‚ And thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Joao Elias

    January 25, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Thank you for the spot on and easy to follow tutorial πŸ™‚


  15. Koos de Heer

    February 4, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Very helpful, very clear and easy to follow. Thank you very much!


    • Liz Dexter

      February 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      You’re welcome, and thank you for your comment!


  16. Samantha Mason

    May 3, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    You are a lifesaver! Thank you so much!



    August 8, 2018 at 6:44 am

    You’ve solved a longstanding problem for me today with this advice. I’m so glad I discovered your site – it is most helpful.


  18. Jake

    October 21, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    I keep coming back to this column over the years to find a solution to an ongoing problem but have never found it… I have no problem changing any languages except for Hebrew. No matter how many settings (all of the above) are changed, the comments always return to Right to Left and appear as “Hebrew” under the language settings. Even when forcing the left-to-right option, the text is messed up because it still reads it as a right-to-left language. Of course, MS is utterly useless, and I have never found a solution. I end up requesting the client to change it themselves (which works), indicating it is a program-related issue. I don’t have a Hebrew language pack installed (Word 2010). Any further thoughts? Thanks for the blog β€” I’ve found it very helpful over the years!


    • Liz Dexter

      October 21, 2018 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Jake. Is there a reason you haven’t installed the Hebrew language pack, as I believe that would resolve the issue?


      • Jake

        October 25, 2018 at 1:04 am

        I have installed it in the past and it didn’t make any difference. It shouldn’t matter though, because I have no problems changing other languages that I don’t have installed. I will try it again, but I’m not optimistic…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Liz Dexter

          October 25, 2018 at 5:50 am

          That’s the only thing I could think of, apart from problematic stuff like uninstalling and reinstalling Word or upgrading to 2013 or 2016, I’m afraid. Let me know what happens.


  19. Pedro Tinedo

    November 29, 2018 at 3:40 am

    Please help me I have a macbook and not working following these steps, thank u


  20. Viktor

    June 6, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    It worked on Office 365 for me, I am very happy. Thank you πŸ™‚


    • Liz Dexter

      June 6, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      Great news, and that’s good to know, thank you!



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