This plugin hasn’t been tested with the latest 3 major releases of WordPress. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress.

Spell Checker


The Spelling Checker plug-in for WordPress provides a built-in facility for
spelling checks on posts from within the administration pages as well as
spelling checks on comments via simple calls added to your templates. It
requires no changes to the WordPress code-base to use, you merely drop it in to
the plug-ins folder and enable it in the interface. This version has been tested
in both WordPress 1.2.1 as well as WordPress 1.5 Strayhorn.


  • Fear the beauty.


  • The easiest way to install the plugin is to use the One-Click Install option
    of the WordPress Plugin Manager.
  • Otherwise, install the spell-plugin.php file
    in the ‘wp-content/plugins’ directory and the rest in a directory you create
    called ‘wp-content/spell-plugin.
  • The plugin must be enabled from the plugins
    page, then ”you must visit the Spell Checker options page at least once”
    before the plugin will be finally enabled. Follow the appropriate link in the
    Spell Checker entry of the Plugins page.


How do I use it?

On the “Write Post” page there should be a new button called “Check Spelling”.
Click it. You will get a new window that performs the spelling checking. Note
that you must have Javascript enabled for this to work. You must also have the
“aspell” executable on your hosting machine for this to work as that is the
spelling service provider used.

How do I enable people to spell check their comments?

Adding the ability for your readers to check the spelling of their comment text
has never been easier, though it may reduce your enjoyment of their
inadvertently incorrect spellings. Simply modify your comments template to call
the following function somewhere within it (this inserts the necessary
Javascript for opening the spelling checker window):


For default WordPress installations, you need no parameters. If for whatever
reason your textarea is a different id than the default “comment” id, you can
specify that id as a parameter to this call, for example:


Now, the only thing left to do is insert the following code where you want the
“Check Spelling” button to appear:


For more flexibility you can specify the following parameters to this function:

  • $button_class – If so desired, you can apply a class specifier to the
    resulting button. Leaving this as the default causes no class to be specified.
    For instance, to specify a class of “buttonclass”, simply specify “buttonclass”
    as the first parameter to the function.
  • $tabindex – To enhance usability, you can specify a tabindex to include in the
    button declaration. If undeclared, no tabindex is specified. Note that if you
    don’t wish to specify a class you must pass an empty string as the first
    parameter. As an example to specify a tabindex of 4 with no class, call the
    function as follows:

‘spell_insert_comment_button( ”, “4” );’

For more flexibility you can add words to the dictionary so that they are not
marked as misspelled. By default only people who are registered users of your
blog and are logged in ”and” have a user level greater than 8 can add words to
the dictionary. This is a security feature so that people can’t add nonsense to
your dictionary. People who do not meet these requirements will simply not have
an “Add” button on the form. You can modify this behavior with the from the
Spell Checker options administration page.


Q. I get an error when try to check the spelling and it says something
like “The required field ‘name’ is missing.” What do I do?
A. That indicates that the language setting you have selected — it defaults to
en_US — is not appropriate for your aspell installation. Just going by
eyeballing statistics, my first suggestion would be to try setting the language
to “english” (don’t copy the quotes, just the word) and if that still causes
problems, cut it back to “en”. If neither work ask you hosting provider for the
appropriate setting for their aspell installation.

Q. I get blank windows in the spelling checker box. Why?
A. It’s likely you either don’t have the ‘aspell’ executable or the path to it
is not correctly configured. To find out, get a shell to your host and perform a
“which aspell”. If it tells you there is no such thing install it if possible.
If it provides a path (something like ‘/usr/local/bin/aspell’) then open the
Spell Checker options administration page and make sure the path matches. When
you first install the plugin, this is precisely how the plugin determines the
location of the aspell executable.

Q. I get errors in Internet Explorer that say something like “Error: Object
expected” on Line 44.
A. This is another case of an aspell path problem. See the previous question for

Q. I don’t get a button. Instead it says something about “safe_mode”.
A. Servers that run PHP in safe_mode sometimes do not allow execution of
executables in certain ways. Unfortunately, this plugin requires the execution
of the aspell executable to do its work. Until the author figures out a way
around it, there is no support for hosts that run PHP in safe_mode. Sorry. The
current version checks for safe_mode and refuses to even try to run, just to
save some support questions.

Q. I don’t see an “Add” button on my checker!
A. By default you must be logged in to your WordPress installation and the user
you log in as must have a user level of 8 before you see an “Add” button. You
can modify this behavior with the from the Spell Checker options administration

Q. My “Add” button grays out and changes to “Adding…” when I add a word and
then never comes back.
Q. I get a failure when adding a word to the dictionary.
A. Something is probably not configured correctly for your particular “aspell”
installation. I gave a best first approximation of the command to add words to
dictionaries, but aspell has many versions and may have a different set of
parameters for you. First, check in the “wp-content/spell-plugin/” directory for
a file called “add_failed.out”. It should have some data for you. Try to
determine what happened and perhaps experiment with your aspell installation and
determine the correct parameters.

Q. It doesn’t work! I get the “Spell check in progress…” indication in the
popup window, but then just a blank page.
A. This is a permissions problem with the personal dictionary. Open the Spell
Checker options administration page and change the location of the personal
dictionary to be a place where the ”Apache web server can write.” Note that to
specify, for instance, your home directory, you must provide the full path to
that directory, as the web server generally runs under a different user id.

Q. I get failures (of various kinds) when trying to add a word to the dictionary
and I’m running WordPress 1.2.1.
A. If you leave the options at the default — especially the security option
that users must be logged in to the blog in order to add words — you will
likely fail to add words in WordPress 1.2.1. This is a problem with a relative
path in the wp-admin/auth.php file that the plugin uses to log you in. To fix, I
highly recommend you upgrade to 1.2.2 as soon as possible.

If all else fails and you never wind up with an aspell personal dictionary (by
default created at “wp-content/plugins/spell/aspell.personal”) or you determine
that your version of aspell doesn’t support creation or merging of personal
dictionaries — yes, this ”does” happen — there’s one last thing to try. Open
the Spell Checker options administration page and enable the “Enable manual
personal dictionary handling for broken aspell installations” option. This will
turn on some functionality that will circumvent the aspell personal dictionary
creation and merging functions and handle that inside the plugin.

Special thanks

This code is merely a mild reworking of the
[ Speller Pages] project on Source
Forge to work within the confines of the WordPress plug-in framework. All credit
for the actual spelling checker goes to them. The method of getting the
functionality into the interface without code changes was inspired by the
[ RunPHP]
plugin. Options administration inspired by
[ Spam Karma].

Contributors & Developers

“Spell Checker” is open source software. The following people have contributed to this plugin.


Translate “Spell Checker” into your language.

Interested in development?

Browse the code, check out the SVN repository, or subscribe to the development log by RSS.