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John Paul Cook

Adding custom medical spell checking to Word

Adding custom spell checking to Word is easy. Office applications use lists of properly spelled words stored in simple Unicode text files will a file type of dic for dictionary. There is a legally free, GPL licensed medical list of words found at It isn’t in Unicode, so we’ve made a Unicode version of this custom dictionary file and packaged it in a zip file which you can download by scrolling to the bottom of this post. Under the terms of GPL licensing, you may download, modify, and redistribute this file only as a free product. GPL means once free, always free and this includes derivative works and any other kinds of enhancements to the original.

This is a simple process of downloading a zip file, extracting it to a specific location, and adding to Word. If you understand the process, it will take about one or two minutes. It is like many other IT tasks where reading the instructions takes more time than actually doing the task.

You can add custom dictionaries for engineering, foreign words, or whatever you need. Adding a custom dictionary affects all Microsoft Office applications, not just Word.

Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9 and Microsoft Office 2010 were used for the screen captures shown below. These instructions work equally well for Office 2013. Microsoft’s official reference for adding custom dictionaries is found here.

Instructions for Word 2011 on a Mac operating system are found here.

Step 0. Open Word and find the location of your custom dictionaries.

Geek alert: If you are a geek, you can skip this step. The location you need is %appdata%\microsoft\uproof

Since I’m using Office 2010, I select File and then Options. If you have a different version of Word, see the Microsoft KB article.


Figure 1. Word 2010 Options.

Go to Proofing and click the Custom Dictionaries button.


Figure 2. Word 2010 Custom Dictionaries button.


Figure 3. Word 2010 Custom Dictionaries location shown to the right of File path.

Copy the location of your custom dictionaries. On my computer, it is C:\Users\John\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof as you can see in Figure 3.

Step 1. Download the zip file containing the custom dictionary.

Scroll to the bottom of this post and click the link.

Click Save as and save the zip file to your desktop.


Figure 4. Save zip file dialog box.


Figure 5. Save zip file to desktop. 

Step 2. Extract the zip file to the Uproof folder.

Right-click the OpenMedSpel100 zip file and select Extract All.


Figure 6. Extract the zip file.

Specify the location of the Uproof folder found in Step 0. On my machine, this is C:\Users\John\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof. Note: If you


Figure 7. Specify the location of the Uproof folder found in step 0 and click the Extract button.

Step 3. Open Word.

Go back to Word’s Custom Dictionaries dialog box shown in Figure 3. Click the Add button on the Custom Dictionaries dialog box.

Note: If you see CUSTOM and en_US_Open MedSpec100 instead of CUSTOM.DIC and en_US_OpenMedSpel100.dic as shown below, it is because you have Windows Explorer configured with "Don't show hidden files, folders, or drives" instead of "Show hidden files, folders, and drives". It might be easier to complete these steps if you show all files.


Figure 8. Select the en_US_OpenMedSpel100 file and click the Open button.


Figure 9. Click OK and you’re done!

Step 4. Open Word or any other Office application to confirm your change.

Enjoy working with your Office applications without the frustration caused by spell checking false positives.


Figure 10. Microsoft Word before (left) and after (right) adding the custom dictionary.

Published Friday, July 8, 2011 2:07 PM by John Paul Cook


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Jonathan Willman said:

You are the man!  Thank you for everything that you are doing.

December 8, 2011 11:27 AM

Veronica Eke said:

Thanks a lot! the steps were pretty easy to follow.

January 4, 2012 6:46 AM

Hussain Al-Sayyah said:

Thank you very much John, you are an angel.

August 16, 2012 5:57 PM

booyakasha said:

thanks! no more red squigglies in all my documents!

December 17, 2012 2:24 PM

Kevin Hams said:


after struggling around with other attempts this was so easy to do!

I can flow in my writting now!

Thank you John

January 9, 2013 3:15 PM

Sydne said:

When I extract the zip file, all that shows up is a notepad file, but no actual dictionary

April 1, 2013 6:11 PM

Sydne said:

Never mind, disregard my previous comment. I selected the .dic file in adding the new dictionary and it worked!

Thank you!

April 1, 2013 6:14 PM

Eunkyoung said:

Thank you John. Instruction was easy to follow.

June 5, 2013 11:35 PM

alam7 said:

Thanks! You are a medical writer's angel.

August 17, 2014 8:53 AM

Rhonda said:

Thank you so much. You are a true life saver :)

September 2, 2014 11:38 PM

Heather said:

Thanks a bunch!

October 1, 2014 3:15 PM

Verena Aibel said:

AWESOMEEE!!!! Worked for my Mac Office 2011 version perfectly. Thank you! V

October 17, 2014 10:18 AM

Aram said:

Thank you very much. it is useful but it lacks some Dermatology terms, for example naevi which means nevus.

November 9, 2014 9:04 PM

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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a database and Azure specialist in Houston. He previously worked as a Data Platform Solution Architect in Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse currently studying to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2. Connect on LinkedIn

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