On January 1st, 2009, Brazil started adopting the new spelling rules, defined in the Spelling Agreement signed in 1990 by seven Portuguese-speaking countries. Grammarians estimate that the spelling reform affects 0.5% of the Portuguese (Brazil) lexicon. In Brazil, there will be a 4-year transition period in which both spellings will be accepted.

As the purpose of the Portuguese spelling reform is to establish a single common orthography for all Portuguese-speaking countries, you may be wondering what is going on in Portugal. Despite the fact that the spelling reform has encountered strong resistance in Portugal, the Portuguese president ratified the Spelling Agreement in July 2008, but the date when the new spelling rules will take effect is still undefined. Once the spelling reform is effective, there will be a 6-year transition period in which both spelling rules will be accepted. It is estimated that the unified spelling will affect 1.6% of the words used in Portugal.

In the Microsoft Portuguese (Brazil) Style Guide, available for download from the Microsoft Language Portal, the topic Portuguese Spelling Reform contains a summary of the main spelling changes, the strategy for implementing the new spelling in Microsoft products, as well as recommendations on how to deal with the controversial cases (points that are still obscure) and special cases regarding Microsoft terminology.

During the 4-year transition period, Microsoft will gradually adopt the new spelling rules in all its products. The upcoming Brazilian Windows and Office versions will already follow the new spelling rules.

What about the Office spell checker?”, users in Brazil have been asking. Microsoft is currently updating the Office 2007 proofing tools (spelling and grammar checker, thesaurus, and hyphenator) with the new spelling rules, and these updates will most likely be released in the second half of 2009. Microsoft also plans to release an adjusted version of the proofing tools, which will include the new spelling rules, in future Office versions.