Q: How can I configure Microsoft Outlook 2010 to correctly proof messages in a language other than the primary language of my Microsoft Office installation?

A: The Microsoft Office suite has long been available in many languages, but no matter what language your installation is based on, you could receive content in other languages. For Microsoft Outlook, that content likely takes the form of email messages. Proofing tools is the name given to the group of options and tools available for editing and creating content in Microsoft Office; these tools are available for specific languages. In Outlook, this basically refers to email composition and review. Proofing tools include Spelling & Grammar checker, Thesaurus, AutoCorrect options, Translation dictionaries, and help with contextual spelling errors.

Related: Outlook 2010's New Translation Feature

Microsoft includes proofing tools specific to the language of Office that's installed and also includes tools for important secondary languages that are most used in addition to the localized, installed language. For example, an English installation of Office 2010 (and Office 2007) includes proofing tools for English, French, and Spanish.

When you compose or reply to messages in languages other than the primary language of your Outlook installation, you might want to use proofing tools to assist in your composition. You can manually configure an alternate language for those tools, or you can configure Outlook to use a specific language when it recognizes that language as the text you're typing for the message. To manually configure an alternate language for editing, you must enable that language and then assign it as the language to use in Office.

Although the English version of Office includes proofing tools installed for French and Spanish, they must first be added and enabled. To enable another language on a workstation with Office 2010 installed, in Windows, navigate to Start, All Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office 2010 Tools and select Microsoft Office 2010 Language Preferences to open the Microsoft Office 2010 Language Preferences window that Figure 1 shows.

Figure 1: The Microsoft Office 2010 Language Preferences window (click image for larger view)

The Language Preferences window is also accessible from within Office 2010 applications, including Outlook, by navigating to File, Options, Language. In the figure, you'll see that English is set as the default language. Figure 1 also shows French as installed and enabled, and Spanish as installed but not yet enabled. You can select from a long list of languages by using the drop-down menu. Languages added from that list might need to be installed before they can be enabled for editing in Microsoft Office, including Outlook.

When you add another language, Office doesn't assume that you're using the same keyboard that you use for the default language. When you click Not Enabled beside the language to add it, you can tell Office whether you're using a language-specific keyboard for typing in that language. Figure 2 shows that Spanish (United States) has been added and it's enabled to use a US layout keyboard. Selecting the keyboard style isn't required, but it's important when the user needs to switch between keyboards based on language.

Figure 2: Selecting a language-specific keyboard for a language in Office 2010 (click image for larger view)

You can change the default proofing tools language in the Language Preferences window by selecting an installed language and clicking the Select as Default button on the right (see Figure 1). I've seen workers who are very proficient in English but have to communicate in Spanish, a language in which they sometimes need help maintaining formal grammar and spelling. They rarely use proofing tools for English, so they configure their default proofing language as Spanish, even though most of their work is completed in English.

Within Outlook, you can assign a language as a default editing language after it's been installed and enabled in Office. To set this language editing setting, you need to be composing an email message (which can be a new message, forwarded message, or a reply). Select the Review tab in the Ribbon, click the Language button, then select Set Proofing Language from the drop-down menu to open the Language dialog box that Figure 3 shows.

Figure 3: Selecting the proofing language in the Language dialog box in Outlook 2010 (click image for larger view)

This window shows the proofing languages available for aiding in message composition. You can manually assign a set language by choosing the language (with the ABC checkmark beside it) and clicking the Set As Default button at the bottom left of the window. This action assigns the proofing language only to Outlook, overriding the Office setting.

Alternatively, you can select the check box beside Detect language automatically. When Outlook recognizes the language you're using to compose a message, such as the Spanish example in Figure 3, it automatically uses the proofing tools for that language if they're installed and enabled in Office. In Figure 3, we have three languages installed and enabled and therefore available—English, French, and Spanish—for editing, and these are the only languages Outlook can and will use when it's set to automatically detect language for editing.

When you change the proofing tools language settings, you have to restart your Office applications, including Outlook, for the changes to take effect. Proofing tools have been released for more than 50 languages; however, not all the tools are available for each language. For example, there's no Spelling checker for Chinese or Japanese characters.

Having proofing tools in multiple languages in Outlook helps multilingual users edit messages they create, independent of the localized language used for the Outlook installation itself.

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