Language settings in Word online

Iron Contributor

Is there a way to make the default dictionary/spelling language in Word Online not US and honour the actual regional settings of the tenant/user?


It's quite annoying in an English (UK) environment as users don't always spot the difference. Particularly problematic in an education setting where it's telling students that "colour" etc are wrong.

18 Replies

Hi Michael,

Word Online should follow the user's language settings (to be found in the general settings for the user).
If I set the preferred language to Dutch in the Office 365 settings then Word Online defaults to the Dutch spelling, unless specified differently in Word Online itself (by marking text and selecting a diffirent language for spelling).

Administrators can bulk change the language for a user to Dutch. If that is needed then PM me and I will send you the Powershell script to do so.

Do you mean this page (attached)? If so it's always been set to UK but Word still defaults to US.





Hi Michael,

No, the settings that I refer to are to be found from the General Settings from Office 365:
1. Go to the Office 365 start page
2. Click the Settings wheel




Not on our Tenant..


We also set all accounts to UK when we apply the initial licence.




You should try the following then:
-In the 'Search all settings' box, type in 'Language' and see what it comes up with


Alternatively you can also open OWA (webmail) and check the settings there (under 'General'). That should state the same. This is the particular setting that defines the default language for Office 365 and thus Word as well.
SharePoint has it's own setting for language.



I like to know if there's a powershell to change the default language for all users.
thanks for advance!

I would just like to clarify that Word Online is not Word 365, and Office Online is not Office 365, even though Office 365 can be used online. Office Online is the free, scaled down version of Office.

To change the interface language of Office Online, go, click on one of the applications, such as Word or Excel, then click snap0051.png at the bottom of the screen. Or you can go to OneDrive, click the menu icon image.png at the top, then select the current language.


Changing the language at the bottom of my Microsoft account page did not change the Office Online interface language.


I'm not sure if this is what Michael was looking for when he asked his question, but I'm sure there will be plenty of people trying to switch Office Online's language that could benefit from this reply.

Office Online is not the same as Office 365, even though Office 365 can be used online. Office Online is the scaled-down, free version of Office that you can only use online. 

To change the language of Office Online, see How to change the display language used for the Office Online website (OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Sway), about halfway down this page

thanks man, this is what is was looking for for 2 months without a luck until now!
I have the same problem as the original post describes. Microsoft Word Online does not respect my language choices.
In the account settings I have chosen: "Languages
Display language
English (Canada)
Preferred languages
English (Canada)"
Whether in the app or in the M365 account settings, all my choices for region and language are set to CANADA. And yet Word shows errors for such spellings as "Colour" and "Centre" etc.

I suspect this is an error in the system related to the wide varieties of English one can select. The software is otherwise very good so it makes this very troubling. Please fix this.

My online 365 Mac Excel is also in Dutch while it should be in English.


Please fix this, as it's getting very irritating. Excel for Mac is  irritating enough with it's limitations, considering the price you pay for it, I already feel a second class customer



The web-based versions of Office programs use the language settings of the operating system. As far as I know, you can't change that fact. :(



Thanks for the suggestion. However, in Word and Outlook Online, changing the display language will also change the default proofing language, in my experience. This is not necessarily what I want to do.

this is easily done on review page - and since it is online you can choose whatever proofing language you want - tested



Sure, it is possible to change the proofing language on a document by document basis, but not a practice I would recommend. 



With regard to my OS - it is Mac 10.15.7 and set to "Canadian English" because I am in Toronto. Word Online tells me "colour" is spelled wrong but it is correct. It's therefore got nothing to do with the language of the OS.


And to repeat, in multiple areas of the MS 365 and Online Word I have it set to Canadian English but it doesn't work correctly. 


Clearly it's a work in progress as is other aspects of the software. Today I had an issue creating a copy of a file in Excel Online - it would not allow creation of copy via "save as" so I had to download a copy as a workaround.





In my experience, the web-based versions of Office programs give us (as users) very little control. You could try changing the language settings for your OneDrive account, as suggested by other contributors in this thread. Maybe that will fix the issue you are experiencing. 


Note that I am unable to offer advice that specifically applies to Word in a Mac environment, because I am a PC user myself.


An important distinction, on both Mac and PC platforms, is that the language in a specific document may differ from the default you have specified. This often becomes apparent when you receive a document from someone else.