How to Change Language in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word

A foolproof guide on how you can change the display language and the editing/authoring and proofing language on any version of Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Word is one of the most popular and widely used programs for documentation purposes around the world. If you hail from a non-English speaking country, then you may want to use MS Word in your own language or any other language of your choice. 

Sometimes, you may want to access accent marks or include special characters from a different language in your writing – this would require you to change the MS Word language itself. Fortunately, Microsoft Word allows you to change the editing language, proofing tools, and the user interface language (display language) and set a different display language while applying another language in editing and proofing documents.

In this article, we’ll show you how to change the display language as well as the editing and proofing language in Microsoft Word. Throughout the post, we’ll be using Microsoft 365 but most of the options are similar to the offline versions (2019, 2016, 2013, or 2010) and Office 365. So irrespective of the version you’re using, this article can surely help change or switch up the language(s) on your Microsoft Word.

Changing the Display and Help Languages

When you install Microsoft Office, it usually has English as its default language or the local/regional language of the location that powered the MS Word purchase. If you want to change this language(s) to any other, you would have to manually install it/them first.

A display language is the one that’s visible on all tabs, menus, buttons, preferences, dialog boxes and other controls on your Word application. If you want to use a different language instead of the default, follow these steps:

Open Microsoft Word and click the ‘File’ tab.

In the backstage view, click ‘Options’.

A Word Options dialog window will appear. Here, select the ‘Language’ tab. In the Language tab, you will see two sections – ‘Office display language’ and ‘Office authoring languages and proofing’.

If you are using Office 2019, 2016, 2013, or 2010, you will see ‘Choose Editing Languages’ and ‘Choose Display Languages’

‘Office display language’ or ‘Choose Display Languages’ section is where you can set the MS Word display (UI) language. You’ll see a list of installed languages under this section. If the language you’re looking for is not in the box, you would have to manually download and install that particular language pack.

Adding Language Packs on Office

If a specific language is not listed here, click the ‘Install additional display languages from Office.com’ link below the box (as shown below).

This will show you a ‘Install a display language’ dialog. Here, choose your language and click ‘Install’.

This will take you to the Microsoft website where you can download the language pack for the selected language as shown below. Here, click the ‘Download’ button.

Run the downloaded setup file to install it.

Wait for the installation to complete, then close and re-launch Word. Sometimes, you may need to reboot your computer for smoother functioning.

Then, open the MS Word app again and go to File > Options > Language. As you can see, the ‘Office display language’ box lists the installed language. Now, select your desired language and click the ‘Set as Preferred’ or ‘Set as Default’ option (for Office 2019 and older versions).

After you select the ‘Set as preferred’ or ‘Set as Default’ button, your selected language should show ‘<preferred>’ at the end as shown below. Then, click ‘OK’.

Adding Language Packs from Office Webpage

Alternatively, you can directly visit the MS Office’s Language pack for Office page, where you can download the language you wish to use. Microsoft Office offers over 100 additional language accessory packs which you can download and install for free. 

Once you’re on Office’s language accessory pack webpage, scroll to see a section called ‘Step 1: Install the language accessory pack’. Under this section, select your Office version tab.

Then, choose your language from the ‘Which language do you need?’ drop-down.

Once you select the language, you’ll notice the ’32-bit’ and ’64-bit’ download links. If your operating system is of 32-bit architecture, click ‘Download (32-bit)’. Or if your system uses 64-bit OS, then, select the ‘Download (64)’ bit.

After the file is downloaded, install the setup file, close, and re-open the Word app. Then, go to the Word Options menu, choose the language pack you installed under the ‘Office display language’ box and select ‘Set as Preferred or ‘Set as default’. Then, click ‘OK’.

Restart Word and you’ll see that the UI language is changed for MS Word.

Changing the Editing and Proofing Language

The editing/authoring language is the language in which you write and edit documents. This language also controls the text direction and arrangement for vertical, right-to-left, and mixed text. The Proofing tool checks for spelling and grammatical errors. If the editing/input and proofing language is already installed on your computer, you can easily change it. If not, you need to first manually install the language and then change it.

Open the Word application, click the ‘File’ tab and select ‘Options’ to open Word Options. You can also open the Word Options window by switching to the ‘Review’ tab in the Ribbon and clicking the ‘Language’ button and then selecting the ‘Language Preference’ option.

In the Word Options, select the ‘Language’ tab. You’ll see the ‘Office authoring languages and proofing’ or ‘Choose Editing language’ section where you can add and set the language for editing. When you install MS Word, the app will automatically be configured to use the default system language.

The ‘Office authoring languages and proofing’ box lists all installed system and Office languages. If the language you want to change is on the list, select the language and click ‘Set as Preferred’ or ‘Set as Default’.

Installing Additional Input Languages for Word

Follow these installation steps if a specific language is on the ‘Office authoring languages and proofing’ box.

To add an authoring language, click the ‘Add a Language..’ button.

Select the language you want to add and click ‘Add’.

Most of the time, even if you add the language, you still have to manually install the language or additional proofing tools on your Windows OS.

To install additional input/editing language on your computer, click the ‘Install additional keyboards from Windows Settings’ link below the Office authoring languages and proofing box.

This will open the Windows Settings page where you can install languages on your system. Click the ‘Add a language’ button (if you have Windows 10 or 11).

In the ‘Choose a language to install’ dialog box, choose a language and select ‘Next’.

On the next page, select ‘Install’.

Once done, you’ll see the installed language in the list of languages.

Usually, when you type on your computer, the system will use the default input language (first in this list) to input characters. So, you should change the input language to the recently installed language to actively use the latter. You can do this via the settings application or from the taskbar.

Via Settings App

To change the input keyboard layout, select the ‘Time & language’ settings, and click the ‘Typing’ option.

Then, select ‘Advanced keyboard settings’.

Now, choose your input method to use as a default.

Via Taskbar

OR, you can easily switch between the input method from the taskbar.

After you installed the language, go back to File > Options > Language. In the Word Options, you’ll notice the installed language in the ‘Office authoring and proofing language’ box.

To remove an editing language, first, select the language and then hit ‘Remove’. 

Installing Proofing Tools

Sometimes, proofing tools may not be installed on Office even after installing the input language. If you’re using Microsoft 365, you would see three proofing tool statuses next to each language, namely – ‘Proofing available, Proofing not available, Proofing installed’. For other Office suites (like Office 2019, 2016, etc.), the status will be shown as ‘Enabled’ or ‘Not enabled’ under the Keyboard layout column.

‘Proofing not available’ means the proofing tools are not available for that particular language. ‘Proofing available’ suggests you download and install the language pack with proofing tools for that language. And ‘Proofing installed’ means the proofing tools are installed for that specific language and you are free to use them.

If Proofing tools are available but not installed, click the ‘Proofing available’ link next to the language you want to use to download the language pack.

This will direct you to the Language pack download page on the Microsoft Office website. Here, click the ‘Download’ button.

After the download is complete, install the ‘OfficeSetup.exe’ file, wait for the installation to complete, then close and re-launch the Word app.

After re-launching the app, go to Word Options. You’ll now see ‘Proofing installed’ next to the chosen language. Now, select the language and click ‘Set as Preferred’.

Word will show you a warning message to let you know that the authoring language you just chose will take effect the next time you launch Office. It also warns you of changes that may occur to custom settings (like your preferred default font). If you want to continue, click ‘Yes’. Then, click ‘OK’ to close the Word Options.

Now, restart your Microsoft Word, again, to change the editing and proofing language.

Once the Word editing language is changed, you would have to change your keyboard layout to type text in the changed language. Usually, the keyboard layout language matches the characters of a different language as the keys on your keyboard would automatically translate to the chosen different language on your screen. Essentially, the keyboard layout language controls and changes display characters when manually typed.

Switching Between Keyboard Layouts

When you install a new language on your OS, it comes with a keyboard for language-specific key layouts and input options. After you install more than one keyboard layout for different languages, you can easily switch between those keyboard languages using the language bar.

When you change/switch the keyboard language, the keyboard layout shifts to the keyboard for that particular language. For instance, if you are writing something in English and if you want to include content in a different language, you can quickly switch between keyboard layouts to write in different languages.

Here’s what you need to do to change the keyboard layout to a different language.

When you have more than one layout installed, the Language bar (language abbreviation) automatically appears in the ‘System Tray’ or ‘Notification Area’. To change the keyboard layout, click the language icon (ENG stands for English keyboard) and select the language you want to use from the list of available keyboards.

If you have Windows 10 or 11, you can press Windows+Spacebar to switch layouts. The language abbreviation represents the active keyboard layout of the system.

Now, you can easily write and edit Word documents using a different language.

Proofreading in Different Languages

MS Word also allows you to write or edit in one language and proofread text in another. To proofread in a different language, go to the ‘Review’ tab, select ‘Language’, and click the ‘Set Proofing Languages..’ option.

Then, select the language from the Language dialog box and click ‘OK’. Here, you also have options to ignore spelling/grammar errors, detect language automatically or set the default language.

For instance, if you want to include a word or phrase in a different language without showing grammatical errors, you should only change the proofing language for the particular word or phrase.

To do this, first, select the word or phrase, then go to the ‘Review’ tab, select ‘Language’ and click the ‘Set Proofing Languages..’ option. Then, choose a language from the list and click ‘OK’. Word will ignore spelling and grammar on the highlighted selection.

That’s it, folks! You can now easily change both the display and editing and proofreading languages on your MS Word to any language(s) of your choice.