Spell checking in Vim

Spell checking with Vim is as simple as :set spell

I recently came across an embarrassing typo on my own website. Buried deep in a paragraph of HTML inside a Rails HAML template, there was a glaring spelling mistake. I quickly raced back to Vim and opened the template and spell checked the whole file. How? With :set spell.

Many novice Vim users are unaware that spell checking is built in and as easy as enabling with :set spell. As a veteran Vim user, I was aware of spell checking and how to turn it on, but I frequently forget the full complement of commands. So for anyone that needs reminding, here are the basics for getting the most out of Vim’s spell checker:

  • :set spell - Turn on spell checking

  • :set nospell - Turn off spell checking

  • ]s - Jump to the next misspelled word

  • [s - Jump to the previous misspelled word

  • z= - Bring up the suggested replacements

  • zg - Add the word under the cursor to the dictionary

  • zw - Oops! Undo and remove the word from the dictionary

In the screencast below, I’ve demonstrated a few of these. With the file open, :set spell has already been enabled. I find the first misspelled word with ]s. It’s actually correctly spelled, it’s the name of my status page monitoring service, StatusGator. So I add the word to the dictionary with zg. Then I find the next misspelling with ]s and press z= to pull up the suggestion list. Finally, I press 2 to choose the replacement.

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