Vim Spell-Checking

Dan Croak

There are times when we edit prose in Vim, such as in a project README or git commit message. In those cases, we can use Vim’s spell-checking to help us avoid embarrassing mistakes.

Switching on spell-checking

We can switch on spell checking with this command:

:setlocal spell

We can also specify the language:

:setlocal spell spelllang=en_us

What does it look like

Here’s a screenshot of what I see as I edit this blog post:


The highlighted words are considered misspellings.

Spell check per filetype

It would be tedious to manually turn on spell-checking each time we need it. Luckily, we can guess by convention that we’ll want to spell-check certain files.

We automatically turn on spell-checking for Markdown files based on their file extension with this line in our ~/.vimrc via thoughtbot/dotfiles:

autocmd BufRead,BufNewFile *.md setlocal spell

Another way to do it for certain filetypes is like this:

autocmd FileType gitcommit setlocal spell

We get word completion for free

By turning on spell-checking in our ~/.vimrc, we’ll be turning on word completion as well. The following command will let us press CTRL-N or CTRL-P in insert-mode to complete the word we’re typing!

set complete+=kspell

Add words to the dictionary

We can add words like “RSpec” or “thoughtbot” to the spellfile (just a list of correctly-spelled words, not a list of magical incantations) by cursoring over those words in a file and typing:


What’s next

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