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Helping Spell Check to deal with other languages

I recently worked on a project that was a dual language document. Meaning that the document contained content in both English and Spanish text. One of the things that immediately struck me was how spellcheck would flag every word as a misspelled word. This was magnified when I turned on Dynamic Spelling because almost every word in the Spanish text contained a red squiggly underline indicating that the text was misspelled (or so it thought). You don’t have to be working extensively with multi-lingual text to observe this, even limited use of words from other languages can be quite an inconvenience.

Foreign works underlined by dynamic spelling

Although this doesn’t affect how a user interacts with the text, it can slow them down and become frustrating.

Why it’s happening

The reason why the text is being flagged by spellcheck is because by default, InCopy is using the English dictionary to check if words in the document are misspelled (assuming you live here in the US). So when InCopy encounters the word or words from another language, it can’t find those words in the English dictionary and therefore flags them as misspelled.

How to fix it

The solution is relatively simple. Select the words that are being flagged with the Type tool and open the Character panel in InCopy by choosing Window > Type & Tables > Character. You’ll notice at the bottom of the panel, there is a Language drop-down menu. Choose the correct language for the highlighted word and if you have Dynamic Spelling enabled, you’ll immediately notice that the word is no longer underlined.


You’ll also notice that when running Spell Check, that those words will no longer be flagged because they’ll be identified in their native language. Another useful way to take advantage of this technique is when your document contains placeholder (lorem ipsum) text within a document. This has also been known to choke the spelling system in InCopy and InDesign. Instead of assigning a different language to the text which wouldn’t help anyway, choose “No Language” from the language drop-down menu in the Character panel. This forces the spelling system to completely avoid checking that text at all.

Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius is an Adobe Certified Instructor, Author, and Consultant in the Philadelphia area and works with clients to improve their creative workflows using Adobe products. He's also the author of several courses on He specializes in PDF accessibility using Adobe InDesign and is a regular speaker at The InDesign Conference and PePcon.
Chad Chelius

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One Comment on “Helping Spell Check to deal with other languages

  1. It isn’t a real solution, isn’t it? I have Documents in German / English, in total about 7000 Pages, over 2.000.000 Words… I will go INSANE if I have to mark every english word and say “no, it’s not english, it’s german.” …

    It could be so simple. Google uses multiple-language-spellchecking in their browser Chrome. Simply add another Language to the Spellcheck and you are done. English AND German words get spell checked the right way, no hassle…

    But what did I expect from a company which is unable to integrate a streamlined, (PS-style) color-picker in their main DTP-Software for over 8 Years… Adobe is more into developing new, senseless apps for mobile devices, i guess. Print is dying, so why bother?

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