The original UNIX spell checking program,
is fine for quick checks of spelling in a short document, but it
makes you cry out for a real spelling checker, which not only
shows you the misspelled words in context, but offers to change them
, a very useful program that's been ported to UNIX and
enhanced over the years, does all this and more.
Here's the basic usage.
Just as with spell
, you spell check a document by giving
But there the similarities cease.
takes over your screen or window, printing two lines of
context at the bottom of the screen.
If your terminal can do reverse
video, the offending word is highlighted.
possibilities are presented in the upper-left corner of the screen - any
word in ispell
's dictionary that differs by only one letter, has
a missing or extra letter, or transposed letters.
Faced with a highlighted word, you have eight choices:
Press the spacebar to accept the current spelling.
to accept the current spelling, now and for the
rest of this input file.
to accept the current spelling now and for the rest of
this input file, and also instruct ispell
add the word to your private dictionary.
By default, the private dictionary is the
in your home directory, but can be changed
with the -p
by setting the
environment variable (6.1
to the name of
some other file.
If you work with computers, this option will come
in handy, since we use so much jargon in this business!
It makes a
lot more sense to "teach" all those words to ispell
keep being offered them for possible correction.
(One gotcha: when specifying an alternate file, you
must use an
absolute pathname (1.19
will look for the file in your home directory.)
Type the digit corresponding to one of ispell
suggestions to use that spelling instead.
For example, if you've
typed "hnadle," as I did when writing this article, ispell
in the upper-left corner of your screen.
makes the change and moves on to the next
misspelling, if any.
if none of ispell
's offerings do the trick, and
you want to be prompted for a replacement.
Type in the new word, and
the replacement is made.
didn't make any helpful suggestions,
and you're at a loss how to spell the word correctly.
will prompt you for a lookup string.
You can use
as a wildcard
character (it appears to substitute for zero or one characters);
will print a list of matching words from its
to quit, writing any changes made so far, but ignoring any
misspellings later in the input file.
to quit without writing any changes.
But that's not all!
also saves a copy of your original
file with a .bak
extension, just in case you regret any of your
(This is starting to sound like a Ginsu knife commercial!)
If you don't want ispell
files, invoke it with the
How about this: ispell
knows about capitalization.
knows about proper names and a lot of common acronyms - it can even
handle words like "TeX" that have oddball capitalization.
it even has a special mode in which it recognizes TeX constructions.
(Too bad ispell
doesn't know about
For even more features, see the manual pages stored with the program
on the disc.