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Spellchecking software can be helpful when copyediting Wikipedia articles. This page explains how to use it well and avoid conflicts with other editors.

General advice up front:

  • Be sure to use the spelling for the correct dialect of a language (e.g., American English vs. British English).
  • Remember that no spellchecker is completely accurate.
  • Be extremely careful when editing pages written in languages in which you are not fluent.
  • Grammar-checking tools can introduce more errors than they appear to fix. Use with great care.
  • You are responsible for all spelling or grammar changes you make, even if the corrections were suggested by an error-checking tool.

Be careful with dialect differences[edit]

Be careful about setting the language of the software to the right dialect of English. If the article is not about a topic tied to a particular region, use the dialect of the first non-stub version of the article. Check the talk page before editing dialect-specific spelling; an article will sometimes have a banner near the top of its talk page that indicates the spelling to be used.

Keep spelling consistent in each 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 and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Spelling for a table of spelling variations in different dialects.

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 spellchecking engine. 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).
  • Google Chrome provides built-in spellchecking for each text field.[1]
  • Microsoft Edge also has a built-in spellchecker.
  • Safari also provides spellchecking features on Mac.
  • Opera has a spellchecker.[2]
  • Grammarly is a free plugin for popular web browsers, which checks not only spelling but also grammar, usage, and punctuation.
  • LanguageTool is an open-source tool that checks for grammar and spelling.

Using an external website[edit]

Using Microsoft Office or LibreOffice[edit]

The default setting in Microsoft Office and LibreOffice Writer 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 in Microsoft Word, you may have to go to the menu Tools → "Grammar and spellchecking" 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 "Publish changes" as usual.

Checking recent edits in bulk[edit]

If you have installed the anti-vandal tool in your common.js, you can use the live spellcheck to identify misspellings as they happen (recent edits). This is not a comprehensive spellcheck – 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]

Spellcheck dictionary additions for editors[edit]

Wikipedia:Spellcheck dictionary is an editor-compiled list of English words, terms, abbreviations and acronyms commonly encountered on Wikipedia. You may copy it and add it to your software's spell-check dictionary.