Adding a Custom Dictionary to Microsoft Word

Hi Oscar,

Attached is an example “Authority” document for commonly referenced species, perhaps something similar exists for the Forest Service?

If you have a list of species, the way to get a .dic file is to open a plain text file, then save it with a “.dic” extension, or save it as a .txt function, and then change the extension from “.txt” to “.dic”

If you want all species of a certain genus (such as all hemlock species – a species I am familiar with from Tennessee that I believe you have several types here in the PacNW), I had an idea you could go to and obtain the “name authority” list from them:

I just downloaded a file for genus “Tsuga” from the following site, by entering “tsuga” in the taxon name entry field:

I refined my query be selecting “Genus” for “where to begin the download” and I selected “subspecies” for where to end the download;

Further, I removed all of the “additional data” beyond the “base data.”

· Synonyms

· Vernacular

· Jurisdiction

· References

· Geographic Division

· Comments

What I got was a file called 712.csv (see attached).

I was prompted to open up the .csv file using MS Excel – *don’t do that.*

Instead, open up Excel on its own, then import the .csv file.

If you have not done this before, the way to do this is to click the “Data” tab in the Excel ribbon, and then choose “From Text” button on the left hand side of the ribbon.

You will be prompted to select a text file. Choose your text file from the Windows file explorer window that pops up. In my case, my file was “712.csv.” Yours will likely be named something random by ITIS, so just remember what the file name was and where it got downloaded. If you don’t see the downloaded file where you expect it, you may have to change your windows explorer to “show all file types” to get the .csv file to shop up as a file to choose to import (this happened to me).

Once you have selected the file, and clicked “OK,” this will launch the Text Import Wizard. Step 1 in the wizard is not important, as long as “delimited text file” is indicated.

In step 2, you must specify the delimiter.

In the case of the ITIS file I obtained, the delimiter is a pipe “|” so it is necessary to indicate that by selecting “other” and entering the pipe character (|) – no parentheses. Then you are free to finish the wizard, and your data will be neatly arranged into separate columns in Excel.

You can ignore everything else in the file besides column D (genus name) and F (species name).

At this point there is a slight problem in that the genus and the species are separated by a tab, which won’t help your dictionary with correct spelling of your species names.

Therefore, I propose that you select column F (so the whole column is highlighted), and then past column F into a blank text document.

Then save it as “yourfilename.dic” (I created a “tsuga.dic” file, see attached.)

In this case you can add on “Tsuga” to prevent the spell checker from catching that.

If you have a whole bunch of genus names, you could filter your column D by genus and repeat the process of creating a .dic file.

Here are the instructions I copied from Yahoo Answers re: importing a custom dictionary:;_ylt=A0LEVioRzo9YiW0A5zInnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTEyc3I1M2dlBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjI2ODNfMQRzZWMDc2M-?qid=20100317173055AAPkEId

Not into the main dictionary, but if the words are in the correct file format, you can supply the file as a custom dictionary.

1. The file has to be a straight ASCII file (not a Word .doc or .docx).
2. The file has to have the extension .dic
3. Each word has to be on a line by itself.
4. The words have to be in alphabetical order (I’m not sure what happens if they’re not. Word MIGHT sort them for you.) Note that upper case letters are "lower than" lower case letters.
5. I think that lower case letters also match words in documents with upper case letters, but the reverse may not be true. That is, letters in upper case on the dictionary may match only upper case letters in documents.
6. The file should be added to this directory:

In Windows XP: C:Documents and Settingsyour usernameApplication DataMicrosoftProof

In Windows Vista: C:Usersyour username AppDataRoamingMicrosoftUProof

(Note: If the directory Appdata doesn’t appear in Windows Explorer, enter the full path name in Explorer’s address window.)

The custom dictionary has to be added to the dictionary list this way.

In versions of Word prior to Word 2007:

1. Click the Tools->Options menu item.
2. Click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
3. Click the Custom Dictionaries button.
4. Click the Add button.
5. Navigate to the dictionary, select it and click the Open button. The dictionary should now be added to the dictionary list box.
6. To be in use, it has to have a check in its checkbox.
7. To make the dictionary the default, select it (don’t uncheck it) and click the Change Default button.
8. Click OK.

In Word 2007:

1. Click the round Office button in the upper-left corner of the window.
2. Click the Word Options button.
3. Click Proofing.
4. Continue as in Step 3, above.

Hope that helps.

Another answer suggests Microsoft has instructions on adding a custom dictionary, I followed the recommended URL and arrived here:

I have not tested these steps with the .dic file I created.

Interesting research question, thank you for sharing your idea – let me know if you have other questions. Would love to know if this helps you with the issue you identified.


Tanner Jessel, MSIS
Science Communications Research Fellow
Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

p: 503-808-2108
f: 503-808-2130
1220 SW 3rd Ave, Suite 1400
Portland, OR 97207
Caring for the land and serving people

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About Tanner Jessel

I am a recent M.S. in Information Science graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Information Science. I was formerly a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth). Prior, I worked for four years as a content lead and biodiversity scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biodiversity Informatics Program. Building on my work experience in biodiversity and environmental informatics, my work with DataONE focused on exploring the nature of scientific collaborations necessary for scientific inquiry. I also conducted research concerning user experience and usability, and assisted in development of member nodes with an emphasis on spatial data and infrastructure. I assisted with research designed to understand sociocultural issues within collaborative research communities. Through August 1, 2014, I was based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Posted on January 31, 2017, in Uncategorized, USFS Research. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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