Simple Words Interpreted as Mispells

I have noticed many times that the Scrivener for Windows spell checker interprets many perfectly good words as misspells. See the screenshot below. Why does the spell checker not understand these plain English words?

Dr. G.

My fiance just had one, too. “Transformative” was marked as misspelled. Although isn’t the spell checker part of the windows thing, not necessarily part of Scrivener? (i.e system, not program?)

I think the WIndows version, unlike the Mac one, is program specific rather than system generated. I believe the guys bought in a number of pre-made dictionaries which, it would appear, have one or two holes…!

Weird. Come to think of it, Linux’s Aspell doesn’t have transformative either.

Been awhile since I posted this. I guess there are no solutions. It’s not an earth-shattering problem, just an annoyance. Do the programmers intent to send out any patches or upgrades on this from time to time. It’s been awhile since I’ve heard anything.

The only solution at the moment is to add the words to the dictionary as you find them. I suspect it wouldn’t take too long before you’ve picked up almost all of the words you tend to use that aren’t included in the default list.

Think of it as a free spelling game with every copy! :smiley:

Hoping someone is working on this. Here is my list of mostly rather overly academic words (which I hate to admit, but I do actually use) which Scrivener for Windows thinks are errors.
Artefact (I know there is a variant spelling of “artifact”, but artefact is also legitimate)
Inter alia (or Interalia)
Pathologise (and the whole s versus z of English versus American spelling)

Well, there is a work-around I have found to this problem, but as it is just a work-around and not a solution of course, and as always use with care :slight_smile: Please note that I am not even sure how it affects Scrivener but hopefully this is just a simple procedure and I haven’t encountered any problems. And please someone correct me if any of what I suggest here should not be suggested at all :confused:

The personal word-lists created by Scrivener’s ‘Learn Spelling’ context menu is saved in the file called “wordlists.ini” in Scrivener’s user local application data folder: in my case (Windows 7 x64), it is in D:\Users[Username]\AppData\Local\Scrivener\Scrivener\ folder. (It may be on the C drive as well, depending on your setting). There, find the “wordlists.ini” file, which is basically a text file that can be opened with any text editor (notepad, Sublime Text, etc.) You’ll most probably see:

[General] personal=word1, Word2
word1 representing a simple word you have added earlier and Word2 likewise, only a private word which has to start with a Capital letter. So you see, personal words are added after “personal=” and separated by a comma and a space. Just add your words separated by a comma and a space: the trick is that if these are regular simple words, just add them all small case, which would recognise the word as correct even if it is written in Sentence Case or ALLCAPS in when you use these words in Scrivener. If the word starts with a Capital letter, just as in place names (e.g. New York, London, Simulacra, etc.) add them as they are, i.e. starting with capital case. Otherwise, do not use other types of casing for regular words (e.g. reification, problematisation, etc.) --if you do so, when you use Scrivener in Auto-Correct mode, the words are automatically capitalised as you add them.

To be on the safe side, exit Scrivener before playing with the wordlists.ini file. Add your words as described, save the wordlists.ini file and restart Scrivener.

One problem with this approach is -I think- the encoding of the wordlists.ini file itself. Any non-English character (such as umlauts, ö, ü, etc.) is displayed with a bunch of letters, which might be ANSI. I think that wordlists.ini file must be a UTF-8 file to enable better conformity to other writing systems, alphabets, etc.


here is a quick formatting of your wordlist to be added to the wordlists.ini file as I tried to describe above (and also make sure that you are using the UK English dictionary but you probably are).

towards, forwards, backwards, inwards, outwards, artefact, simulacra, haptics, explanandum, explanans, salvific, reified, reifies, reification, heterarchy, inter alia, interalia, agonistic, retrospectivity, paradigmatically, naturalistically, wireframes, contrarian, hedonic, pathologise, determinist, problematisation, irreversibility, liminal, immersive, panopticon, constructivist, auspicing

Sorry for the very long post - hope it helps,

To PigFender:

I am not the one needing the spelling game. I know how to spell these words. It’s the program (or programmer) who needs the spelling games. So, the added spelling game is more like an added irritation.

Thanks anyway,


Actually, don’t they use Aspell for the dictionary on Scrivener? I know the Mac version uses the built-in dictionary in OSX, which doesn’t have an analogue in Windows-land. So it’s not L&L’s fault, but whoever did the dictionary for Aspell. Adding words seems to be the only trick, although it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a better one out there. (Aspell being open source.)

It is Aspell what Scrivener uses in Windows as well, but I surely wouldn’t consider it as a ‘fault’ on the side of the developer(s) of this free and open source software, which made it possible for a bunch of open source and/or commercial software (e.g. all Mozilla family, Libre/OpenOffice, even Evernote uses .aff and .dic files generated from Aspell/Hunspell dictionaries, etc.) besides Scrivener to utilise a spelling correction feature at the first place. But I see your point, of course there is (a vast) room for development :smiley: and I certainly believe Scrivener development will come up with some solutions as to how to better utilise this resource, as the requests posted here and elsewhere in the forums regarding the capabilities of the spell-checking functions in Scrivener itself seem rather prominent for a writing software, imho. -just a matter of time, I’d guess :wink:

I agree, its an irritation. But hopefully only a shortlived one. After all, you only need to add a word once, so after a short while you should get most of 'em picked up. I mean, how many words do we really use on a regular basis?

Aw, come on. We’re WRITERS. We use a LOT of words.

I’ve always had to train a new computer/software’s spelling dictionary for anywhere from a few months to a year. Even the best systems do not have every word, and this is going to be especially true in any form of writing that focusses on a specialised area of knowledge or is rapidly evolving. Writing about software and computing pretty much always means a lot of dictionary training.

Yeah, it’s a task, and yeah it is annoying—but it’s just something you’ve got to do. Languages are too vast and rapidly changing to be exhaustively covered by dictionary lists. Even the greatest dictionary teams in the word have to work hard every day of the year to keep up with language, let alone some volunteer-run word list.

Best thing to do is save your custom lists from whatever programs you’ve trained, back them up into text files, and when you switch to new software learn that software’s personal word list format. Then you can convert your personal list to the format and be done with it. I’ve got a basket full of words that I’ve been adding to over the last decade or so that travels with me from computer to computer, software to software.