How to change the language of your Word 2007, 2010 or 2013 document

26 Mar

This article tells you how to change the language of your document in Word 2007, 2010 or 2013.

Why would I want to change the language of my Word document?

The language that is set for your Word document sets the language in which the spelling and grammar checks work. If you are working, say, at a university that uses UK English, and you use a version of Word that’s set for US English, when you run a spell check (or if you ask Word to highlight errors as you go along), the spelling will default to American English. You will submit your document in the incorrect version of the language. This can really matter if you’re instructed to use one particular version, and will matter more as you move into submitting articles for journals (which may specify either version of English) or working for a company that uses British or American spelling as standard.

If you’re working in the field of localisation, or even just, as I used to, writing documents for the US and UK markets simultaneously, making sure that the language set for your document matches the language you’re working in means that you can run final checks and make sure that you’re using the appropriate spelling.

If your document has come from another country which uses a language other than English, for example if you’re working on a document prepared by a translator working out of their own language, you really need to change the language to English before you start editing it, or when you run a final spell check, every word will be highlighted and confusion will ensue.

So it’s important to make sure that the language of your document matches the language in which you wish to work. I receive many documents to proofread which are set for US English but are for a student at a UK university – a quick set of actions is all that it takes, but I fear that students will be penalised if they use the inappropriate spellings for the context.

How do I view and change the language in my document?

In Word, the language that is set for your document should appear in the lower status bar of your document:

1 language on status bar

From here, you can easily change the language of selected text or the whole document (see below). But first we’ll look at how to add this useful display if it’s not showing.

How do I make the language display on my status bar?

If the language isn’t showing on your status bar and you want to see it there, right-click anywhere on the lower status bar. A menu should appear with lots of options to tick. Any item that is ticked will appear on the status bar – this is also useful if you want to view your word count there.

2 add language on status bar

Click on Language or tick the tick-box next to it, and your language will appear for ever more in the bottom status bar.

This works exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013.

How do I change the language using the status bar display?

First you need to highlight the text whose language you want to change.

You might want to highlight parts of the document (for example if it’s a dual translation in two languages and you just want to set one to UK English, or it’s a localisation and you just want to change one column of a two-column original and target language table), keeping the control key pressed down if you want to select several individual blocks of text.

If you want to change the language of the whole document, go to the Home tab and choose Select to the very right of the tab, then Select All:

3 select text

(or you might press the Select All button on your Quick Access Toolbar if you’ve added it there (marked with an arrow on the screenshot above) – see my article on Adding Buttons to the QAT if you need to know how to do that).

Once you’ve highlighted the text for which you want to set the language, click on the language display in the bottom status bar and choose your language:

4 select language

Note: Do not check spelling or grammar has a blue square next to it. Click in this square twice so that first a tick, then nothing, appears in the square.

Now click on OK. Your language will have changed to the language you selected.

This works exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013.

How do I change the language using the menus in the ribbon?

If you don’t choose to display the language in the lower status bar, you can access it via the menus in the ribbon at the top of the screen instead. This works slightly differently in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, so I’ll show you screenshots of all three.

In Word 2007, choose the Review tab and then Set Language in the Proofing section:

5 menus 2007

In Word 2010, choose the Review tab, then the Language button in the Language section, and click Set Proofing Language:

5 menus 2010

In Word 2013, again, choose the Review tab, Language section, Language button and Set Proofing Language:

5 menus 2013

For Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, once you’ve clicked on the relevant button, you will see the dialogue box for changing the language: select your language, remembering to click the blue square next to Do not check spelling and grammar once, twice, so there’s a tick then nothing:

7 select language

How do I make the language appear in the lower status bar of my document?

You may find yourself unable to display the language in the lower status bar, however much you right click and tell Word to display it. Please pop over to this article if you’re having this problem, where you will find screen prints that will walk you through the process.

How do I change the language in my comments balloons?

You may find that the language in your comments balloons remains the original language of the document. If you need to change the language in your comments, see this article.


In this article, I’ve shown you how to change the language of your Word document. If you have found this useful, please leave a comment and click on the sharing buttons below. Thank you!

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.

Related posts on this blog:

How to change the language of comments

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

19 responses to “How to change the language of your Word 2007, 2010 or 2013 document

  1. Krys Williams

    June 8, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Liz!
    Your site came up in a Google search while I was looking for a fix.
    My problem was that the language did NOT display in the status bar of my new Word 2013 installation, despite that option being ticked. You don’t cover that situation, so I thought I’d share the solution since it affects many people.

    The problem comes up if you only have one language set in your proofing options, in Word 2013 these are in:
    Word Options > Language > Choose editing languages

    I saw that I only had UK English selected. I added US English, which is the easiest option, because the proofing tools are already there so you don’t need to go back to your installation package to retrieve anything additional.

    Once I had both these languages listed, the problem was solved. The status bar now displays the language of any text written in any language.


    • Liz at Libro

      June 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks so much for this valuable added information – with your permission I will add it to this post or a new one – with a credit to you, of course.


      • Krys

        June 8, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        Hi Liz,

        Personally, I would incorporate the information into the existing post t, but obviously it’s your blog and your choice . BTW, the need to have at least two proofing languages selected in order for language to display also applies to Word 2010 and 2007 as far as I am aware, but I don’t know about earlier versions.

        If you want to give me a link and would prefer my business web site, it’s although it only has minimal content on it at present. After moving to a WordPress format, I didn’t have time to do anything. I was, however, forced to put up something last year to let people know about my CV being stolen. That’s really as far as it has got, apart from an “about” page but funnily I get enquiries through the contact form there from time to time.


        On Sun, Jun 8, 2014 at 8:40 PM, LibroEditing proofreading, editing, writing


  2. makau nzunga

    October 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    please change current language. on my. facebook to english.


    • Liz at Libro

      October 9, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Hi there, this is an article about Microsoft Word, but to change your Facebook language, click the down-arrow to the right of your name / home / notification icons, choose Settings, then General, and there is a language option that you can edit. I hope that helps!


  3. Charles

    September 28, 2015 at 1:03 am

    The reason I could not get my default language to stay in British English was because I was using an American keyboard. I found that when the keyboard was set to British English then the default did not reverse to US English. . There were, however, 3 changes on the keyboard. all to do with the Shift key. Shift @ = “, Shift ” = @ and Shift # = £.


  4. prs

    June 27, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Parts of my word document (MS Word 2010) is in word and partly in hebrew and I wanted to change it all to English(US). The tips mentioned above did not work at all in this case.


    • Liz Dexter

      June 27, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Thank you for your comment. Was the Hebrew part in a Hebrew script package that you’d added to Word in order to use a Hebrew keyboard overlay as well, or was it all in the document when you got it? What happened when you tried to change it? This wouldn’t change Hebrew script into standard script for reading US English, for example.

      If you can give me more detail, I can try to suggest a solution for you, although I can’t promise I can resolve your issue.


      • Sarah Anderson

        November 13, 2016 at 9:44 pm

        I’m having the same problem with a table containing mixed Thai and English in the same cell. My autocorrect shortcuts (e.g. “ui” for “[U/I]”) do not work for any of the text that Word has determined is “Thai” (even though it is clearly in English). Suggestions are welcome!


        • Liz Dexter

          November 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

          You could try turning off “Auto Detect Language” (in the dialogue box where you set the language described above) as that might be over-riding your language selection.


  5. May Brit Akerholt

    August 7, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Your tips on how to change the default language does not apply to ‘Word for Mac. It doesn’t respond to or give me any Menu options when I click on the lower bar. I set the default language to English AUS and it keeps changing back to English US as soon as I’ve written a few words. I have to select the document, go into Tools, Language, and change it. It offers me a default language there, but that’s of no use, it keeps changing it to US. I’m a translator, it’s driving me crazy. What to do? May Brit


    • Liz Dexter

      August 7, 2016 at 10:38 am

      As I say at the bottom of the article, the instructions work for Word for PC, Mac usually has similar options but I am not a Mac user so can’t give you the definitive information. I have approved your comment so it’s visible, so someone might come along with the answer – this has happened with other posts.


  6. Michel G

    October 1, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    I appreciate your efforts to teach the masses with ways of using Word.
    Unfortunately, I was not able to find a solution from my readings of your work.
    What I want to achieve is a permanent change of the default language used every time I open Word.
    I want the default language to be “French (CANADA)” from “English (CANADA)”.
    Any help would be appreciated


    • Liz Dexter

      October 1, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Have you tried changing the language then saving as a template (.dot) which you can then use next time?



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