How to Change Language in Word

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

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

These instructions apply to Word 2019, 2016, 2013, and 2010, and Word for Office 365. See the bottom of the article for special considerations for Word Online and for any version of Word on a Mac.

How to Change Your 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 itself to install language files rather than relying on an application like Word to do it for you.

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

  1. Click File > Options.

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

    Language heading in Word options
  3. In the Choose Display Language section, pick your display and help languages. Any language you've installed into Windows 10 will be displayed. If a specific language is not listed, click the link to Get more display and help languages from Office.com.

    Language settings with the Choose Display Language heading highlighted
  4. If necessary, install a Language Accessory Pack and then close and re-launch Word. You may find it necessary to reboot your computer, as well.

  5. After a language pack loads, go back to the Word Options menu to select that pack. Click Set as Default for both the Display and the Help language lists. Click OK.

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

    Language Preferences with the OK button highlighted

How to Change the Editing Language in Word

word language

Changing the editing language—which governs just spelling, grammar, and word sorting—follows from the same Word Options screen. However, in the top part of the screen, in the Choose Editing Languages section, select additional languages as part of the drop-down menu labeled [Add additional editing languages].

Language Preferences window with the Choose Editing Languages heading highlighted

To proof in the selected language, highlight the text to be proofed then go to the Review tab and select Language > Set proofing language from the Language group on the ribbon. Pick the language from the list. Word will consider the highlighted selection to be the non-default, selected language and will proof the contents accordingly.

How to Change Language in Word Online

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, then in the pop-up window, pick your alternative language. All proofing in that selected block will be governed by the rules of the alternative language.

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 you choose 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. If you wish to change the proofing language for all new documents, select Default. 

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