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How can I spell check LaTeX documents?

The formatting commands used in LaTeX can trip up many spelling checkers, causing them to report the commands as misspelled words. However, if you use

	ispell -t filename.tex

ispell will go into TeX/LaTeX input mode. In this mode, whenever a backslash ("\") is found, ispell will skip to the next whitespace. Thus, for example, given

\chapter {This is a Ckapter} \cite{SCH86}

ispell will find "Ckapter" but will not look for SCH. The -t option does not recognize the LaTeX/TeX comment character "%", so it will spell check your comments, as well. This is not an infallible method, but it does a fairly good job of ignoring most of the LaTeX formatting.

When you run ispell on a file, it will display each word which does not appear in the dictionary, and allow you to change it. If there are "near misses" of the misspelled word in the dictionary (words which differ by only a single letter, a missing or extra letter, or a pair of transposed letters), then they are also displayed. If you think the word is correct as it stands, you can type either "Space" to accept it this one time, or "I" to accept it and put it in your private dictionary. If one of the near misses is the word you want, type the corresponding number. Finally, if none of these choices is right, you can type "R" and you will be prompted for a replacement word.

For a more complete description of how to use ispell, type the following at the athena% prompt:

man ispell

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Last Modified:

December 16, 2010

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