Using language tools

Writer provides some tools that make your work easier if you mix multiple languages within the same document or write documents in various languages.

You can set the language for the whole document, individual paragraphs, or even individual words and characters. In versions of earlier than 3.0, it was necessary to use styles in order to insert within a document paragraphs or individual groups of characters that use a different language, but now this can be conveniently done from the main menu.

Using character and paragraph styles is still the preferred method, as styles allow a greater level of control and make changing language much faster. See Formatting Text for information on how to manage the language settings of a style.

The main advantage of changing the language is that you can then use the correct dictionaries to check spelling and apply the localized versions of Autocorrect replacement tables, thesaurus, and hyphenation rules.

The language tools can be found in Tools > Languages on the main menu, as shown below.

The Language menu

The Language menu

For selection
Applies the specified language to the selected text (the selection can be only a few characters or several paragraphs).

For paragraph
Applies the specified language to the paragraph where the cursor is located.

For all text
Applies the specified language to the entire document.

An alternative way to change the language of a whole document is to use Tools > Options > Language Settings > Languages. In the Default languages for documents section of the Options dialog, you can choose a different language for all the text.

Unlike the menu tool that applies to the individual document, a change in the default language from the Options dialog is a general change of settings of and will therefore apply to all the documents created in the future. If you want to change the language for the current document only, be sure to select the For the current document only option.

Spelling checking is available only for those languages in the list that have the symbol Spelling and grammar icon next to them. If you do not see the symbol next to your preferred language, you can install the additional dictionary using Tools > Languages > More dictionaries online.

The language used for checking spelling is also shown in the status bar, next to the page style in use.

You can also configure the language for a paragraph or a group of characters as None. This option is particularly useful when you insert in the document text that you do not want to check for spelling, such as web addresses or programming language snippets.

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This book is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, version 3.0.

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3 comments on “Using language tools
  1. makus says:

    nice , but a have a “strange” problem ,

    in windows XP and 7 , the writer of open office recognize automatically the language that i write , but in Mac OS X Leopard , the openoffice cannot recognize the language and have all text in same language, how can i solve that problem ?


  2. Jean says:

    You may get a better answer by asking your question on one of the user forums at

    First check your settings to make sure everything is correct. If that does not find the problem, you may need to mark the language yourself, using one of the language tools. Or you may want to see if LibreOffice or NeoOffice do what you want. I have not tested the language tools on my Mac, and my Mac is running OS X Lion, so it may work differently.

  3. Christa says:

    How do you change the langauge of the application? mine downloaded in french and i can’t read anything.