Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes whenever you do a spell check in PowerPoint or any other Microsoft Office program? PowerPoint looks at each word you have typed and matches those words with the entries listed within its dictionary. If the dictionary does not contain any of the words in your slides, it goes ahead and marks that word as misspelled. Then it offers you suggestions for changing those supposedly misspelled words to other similar words that can be found within its dictionary.
We use the term "supposedly" in the last paragraph because PowerPoint's dictionary is quite basic, and includes mainly words used in common, everyday language. If a word does not exist within that dictionary, it is not necessarily misspelled! There are so many specialized words in different knowledge branches like medicine, research, law, computing, etc. that are not common words. Yet, they are perfectly valid as far as spellings are concerned.
To counter this state of affairs, you can buy several specialized dictionaries. In fact, some great dictionaries are also available free of cost. These dictionaries can be then loaded within PowerPoint and other Microsoft Office programs to give you a larger range of words to use. For this tutorial, we downloaded this free Medical dictionary from Raj&Co.
Unfortunately, PowerPoint 2011 for Mac does not allow you to load custom dictionaries, although you can do so from within Word 2011. All loaded dictionaries in Word work in PowerPoint. Follow these steps to learn more:
- Launch Word 2011 if it is not already open, and choose the Word | Preferences menu option, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Choose Word | Preferences
- This opens the Word Preferences dialog box. Select the Spelling and Grammar option that you can see highlighted in red within Figure 2.
Figure 2: Spelling and Grammar option within Word Preferences dialog box
- This opens the Spelling and Grammar dialog box. In this dialog box, click on the Dictionaries button (highlighted in red within Figure 3).
Figure 3: Spelling and Grammar dialog box
- This summons the Custom Dictionaries dialog box as shown in Figure 4. Note that there is only one dictionary at this point of time named Custom Dictionary (highlighted in red within Figure 4). However it is entirely possible to have more than one custom dictionaries. In the Custom Dictionaries dialog box, click the Add button shown highlighted in red within Figure 4.
Figure 4: Add button within Custom Dictionaries dialog box
- This opens the Add Dictionary dialog box as shown in Figure 5. In this dialog box, navigate to the folder that contains your downloaded dictionary, or any dictionary that you want to load. Select the required DIC file (shown highlighted in red within Figure 5), and click the Open button (highlighted in blue within Figure 5).
Figure 5: Add Dictionary dialog box
- This adds the selected dictionary within the Custom Dictionaries dialog box, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6. Click the OK button (highlighted in blue within Figure 6) to get back to the Spelling and Grammar dialog box. Again, click the OK button within the Spelling and Grammar dialog box to load the dictionary.
Figure 6: New dictionary within Custom Dictionaries dialog box
- Now, launch PowerPoint and open the Spelling dialog box. Here you can see the new dictionary within the Add words to section, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 7.
Figure 7: New dictionary within Spelling dialog box
- Now that we loaded a medical dictionary, PowerPoint no longer puts red, squiggly lines under words such as Abdominoplasty (see Figure 8 below). But, Propria is still showing up as misspelled. You can download a legal dictionary and load it as explained in the preceding steps!
Figure 8: Do you need a legal dictionary too?
- Save your presentation often.
Note: To remove a dictionary from the Dictionary List, you must again use Word 2011. Just select it within the Custom Dictionaries dialog box, and then click the Remove button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 9.
Figure 9: Custom dictionary selected for deletion
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