I had to go through all of this just to be able to spellcheck in a different language
- Changed the dictionary preferences to English: UK
- Opened the Character panel and changed the language to English: UK
- Opened all of my Paragraph Styles and set language to English: UK
- Opened Find/Replace to find all English: US text and change to English: UK
- Changed the default Paragraph Style from English: US to English: UK
Not only is this inefficient and illogical, but it's also not documented well enough in the InDesign help documentation.
If I then have to spellcheck in another language for one document, I have to go through all of this again?
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This is a big area of confusion.
The Dictionary preference is just a way to select which vendor's dictionary will be used when there is more than one install for a language. Other than that it has absolutley no bearing on spell checking.
The spell check function looks at the language assigned to the text at the character level (so you can mix foreign words in your text and they will spell check correctly IF you assign the correct language to them), then uses the dictionary chosen in the prefs for that language to check the spelling and hyphenation. Failure to assign the correct language, or assigning no language (a trick to prevent hyphenation) will result in incorrect spell check results.
Best place to set the language is in your paragraph style definition, then create a character style for any foreign words you use, or select them and use a local overrride of the language selection.
This is a great answer. The documentation really should be updated to outline this. Would have saved me a lot of time!
I think I spent at least ten years not really understanding this. You are definitely not alone.