Foreign language auto-correct death

Foreign language auto-correct death

Working in a multilingual environment sometimes makes using normal Office products difficult. This is quite possibly the most useful and least random blog post I’ve ever composed – can you tell I’ve been running into some bilingual frustrations lately? This weird little polyglot guide will help you fix the auto-correction insanity that sometimes takes over and makes your French look like English, or your English look like Spanish, or your Catalan look like a terrifyingly inaccurate hybrid of any of the above.

  • In Word 2007, select the Office button (upper left corner, looks like Office logo) and Word Options
  • In Word 2010, select File and Options
  • In Excel 2007, select the Office button (upper left again) and Excel Options
  • In Excel 2010, select File and Options
  • In Outlook 2010, select File and Options, then Mail tab, then Editor Options button
  • In Outlook 2007, select Tools, then Options, then Mail Format tab, then Editor Options button

Select Proofing tab, then AutoCorrect Options button

Uncheck the box Replace text as you type

Select OK for the AutoCorrect window.

Quick bilingual task check-in: This is a good time to make sure options like Enforce accented uppercase in French, Traditional/new spellings, and tuteo/voseo verb forms are set according to your organization’s style guide. (I’m sure there are some even more in-depth settings for certain languages, like German, that have had spelling reform.) It’s also a good time to make sure the dictionary language is set appropriately (Word and Excel), even though this is likely to change with your next bilingual task. I also like to make sure Ignore words in UPPERCASE and Ignore words that contain numbers are unchecked so I don’t accidentally miss anything that these options would mask. Lastly, every once in a while I run into AutoFormat frustrations — like with French apostrophes causing smart quotes to face the wrong way — so that can be another good section to pop in and disable, if applicable.

Now select OK again for the Options window.

All done!

With these steps, emails and docs can be a little more work since you aren’t likely to have your typos fixed while you type, but it’ll ensure greater accuracy. (Spell check and grammar check will still underline things that are wrong so you can spot unintentional errors and fix them manually. However, you’ll have to bid adieu to the automatically inserted graphical smiley face.) You can always re-enable these options to get your programs back to “normal.” Happy detail-oriented editing!

Obviously, this is far from linguistically comprehensive. (And don’t get me started on browser-tab-language-insanity.) I’m sure there are languages with even more frustrating quirks – anyone out there care to comment? (Spontaneous Tomato, perhaps?)