Wikipedia:Spellchecking

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Spell-checking software can be helpful when copy-editing Wikipedia articles. This page explains how to use it well, and how to avoid conflicts with other editors.

General advice up front:

  • Be sure to use the spelling for the correct dialect (e.g. American English vs. British English).
  • Remember that no spell-checker is completely accurate.
  • Be extremely careful when editing pages written in languages in which you are not fluent.

Be careful with dialect differences[edit]

Be careful about setting the language of the text to the right dialect of English. If the article is not about a topic tied to a particular region, the the dialect of the first non-stub version of the article was written.

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Spelling for a handy chart showing different spellings in different dialects.

Check the talk page before editing dialect-specific spelling. Some talk pages have banners near the top that indicate which spelling is used throughout the article.

Keep spelling consistent in a given article (excepting direct quotes), and write in ways understandable in all dialects when possible.

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#National varieties of English for detailed advice.

Checking a single article[edit]

Using a web browser[edit]

The easiest way to spellcheck a single article is to use the built-in spellcheck of your web browser.

  • Mozilla Firefox has a built-in spell checking engine since version 2.0. However, you should check that the right dictionary for your language is installed and selected. Right-click in an editing field, make sure that "Check spelling" is checked, then under "Languages" select the right language. There are separate dictionaries for "English / United States", "English / United Kingdom" etc.; if the right dictionary does not appear in the list, click "Add Dictionaries" and use the page that appears to install it (note that you will have to restart Firefox to enable it after installing).
  • Safari also provides spell checking features on both Mac OS X and Windows versions.

Using an external web site[edit]

Using Microsoft Office or OpenOffice.org[edit]

The default setting in Microsoft Office is with spell and grammar checking on, so just hit the Wikipedia "Edit" button for your article, copy the raw article source, paste it into a new Word or Writer document and follow the red (spelling) and green (grammar) markers and correct mistakes as necessary. If checking is not automatic, you may have to go to the menu Tools -> "Grammar and spell checking" or some such. When satisfied, simply copy and paste the text back into the text box in the browser window, check that any UTF-8 characters are still working as before by clicking "Show changes" and if satisfied, finally click "Save page" as usual.

Checking recent edits in bulk[edit]

If you have installed the anti-vandal tool in your monobook.js, you can use the live spellcheck to identify misspellings as they happen (recent edits). This is not a comprehensive spell check – it only points out the most commonly misspelt words. And it will not spellcheck text that an editor is adding to an article (for that, see the web browsers section, above).

Checking existing text in bulk[edit]

See Wikipedia:Typo Team.