Word: AutoCorrect entries not working on some documents

September 18, 2018

I use Word’s AutoCorrect function a lot. I mean, a LOT. So I’ve been flummoxed when occasionally it doesn’t work. I type in my code and it won’t expand to the text I have assigned to that code. It works in all other documents, new and old, and it makes no difference whether those documents are stored locally or on the server. It just doesn’t work in SOME documents.

Today I decided to get to the bottom of it and see if there was a solution—and there is. I had to hunt various Word forums and try several things, but one of the suggested solutions pointed me in the right direction, and with a bit of trial and error I found the answer.

But first, a bit of background so you understand something about autocorrect (ACL) files and their relationship to the language settings in your document. You have several ACL files on your system (in Windows, they’re under C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Office). Each ACL file has a number that corresponds to a language (e.g. MSO1033 for US English, MSO2057 for UK English, MSO3081 for Australian English, and so on). The language you have set on your computer AND for Word should be the same, and the language for the document you’re working on dictates where any ACL entries you create while working on that document will go (at least, I think that’s the case). So, if you’ve got Australian English set as your computer and Word language, but are working on a document set for US English, then your autocorrects may not work, and new ones may save to the US ACL file. If you want to know what language your autocorrects are set to, go to File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Settings — the language is displayed in the title bar of that window.

Now, how to solve it…

The simplest solution is to set the language for the whole document to your preferred language (Ctrl+A, Review tab, Language, then set the proofing language, set it as the default, and turn off the Detect Language Automatically check box). And yes, you can set this in your templates too, so that all future documents based on those templates have a default language and therefore use the correct set of AutoCorrects. If your autocorrects start working again, you’re done.

If they don’t, as happened to me, then you need to delve a little deeper. Selecting the entire document and changing the language doesn’t change the language for everything in Word, just some of the visible bits. For example, it doesn’t change the language set in the styles. And this is where I started investigating and found the answer. For the document I was working on, most of the styles were based on Normal, so I checked the settings for the Normal style and found that the language for that style was set to US English. I changed the language for that style to Australian English, and suddenly my autocorrects starting working straight away! NOTE: If you have lots of styles based on (none), then you’ll have to modify each style and set its language, or use a macro to set the language for all styles.

The solution was simple, but the path to find the solution wasn’t!

Note: This forum post helped me find the answer (see the comment from Jay Freeman on page 2 dated 10 January 2017): https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2013_release-word/word-2013-autocorrect-stopped-working-mid-document/655258c4-a307-4b5d-a8d6-d81a146a8b39?db=5

[Links last checked February 2019]


  1. […] One of the issues with setting the language for a Word document is that DOESN’T change the language set for the styles. If you’re lucky, your styles use the same language as your default language, but sometimes they don’t (especially if the document has come from authors in other countries). This can result in some strange behaviour under specific circumstances. […]

  2. […] I installed Office 365 on a test Windows 10 machine and wanted to change the language setting in the normal.dotm template from US English to Australian English (this determines which autocorrect [*.ACL] file is used for any documents based on that template). […]

  3. You saved me a lot of headaches. Thank you.

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