How to Change Language in Word

Need to write or read in a different language? Follow these tips

Microsoft Word supports two language modes—an editing language and a display language. Those modes may be applied within Word independently of the language installed for your operating system.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010. See the bottom of this article for special considerations for Word Online and Word for Mac.

How to Change the Display Language

The display language in Word governs the ribbon, buttons, tabs, and other controls. Normally, Word defaults to the language of the operating system. As a rule, you should use Windows to install language files rather than rely on an application like Word to do it for you.

To force a specific, different display language just for Word:

  1. Select File > Options.

    Word with the Options button highlighted
  2. In the Word Options dialog box, select Language.

    Language heading in Word options
  3. In the Choose Display Language section, choose the Display Language and Help Language you want to use. Languages installed in Windows 10 are listed.

    Language settings with the Choose Display Language heading highlighted
  4. If a specific language is not listed, select Get more display and help languages from Office.com. If necessary, install a Language Accessory Pack, then close and re-launch Word. You may need to reboot your computer, as well. After a language pack loads, go to the Word Options menu and choose that pack in the Display Language and Help Language lists.

  5. Select Set as Default for both the Display Language and the Help Language lists.

    Language Preferences in Word with the Set as Default button highlighted
  6. Select OK to save your changes.

    Language Preferences with the OK button highlighted

How to Change the Editing Language in Word

The editing language—which governs spelling, grammar, and word sorting—can be changed in the Word Options screen. Go to the Choose Editing Languages section, and select a language from the list. If the language isn't listed, select the Add additional editing languages drop-down arrow and choose a language.

Language Preferences window with the Choose Editing Languages heading highlighted

To proofread in the selected language, highlight the text, then go to the Review tab and select Language > Set proofing language. Choose a language from the list. Word will consider the highlighted selection to be the non-default, selected language and will check the spelling and grammar accordingly.

word language

How to Change Language in Word Online

Language options for Office Online are similar to those in desktop versions of Office. In Office Online, highlight the text for proofing in the non-default language. Select Review > Spelling and Grammar > Set Proofing Language, then choose your alternative language. All proofing in that selected block will be governed by the rules of the alternative language.

word online

How to Change Language in Word for Mac

The display and keyboard layout languages used in Office for Mac are the same as the ones for the operating system. You cannot use separate languages for the OS and Office applications. However, you can specify a different proofing language for Office for Mac.

To change the proofing language in Office for Mac, select Tools > Language in Word or another Office application. To change the proofing language for new documents, select Default.

If you select OK instead of Default, the proofing language you chose will only apply to the current file.