LibreOffice kind of sucks, but here we are: Spell checking with LibreOffice!

The LibreOffice interface is far from Awe-insipiring
The LibreOffice interface is far from Awe-inspiring

OK before I say anything else I feel like I have to say this: I love Ubuntu (of course I don’t like Mint and their insidious plans to take over the world – first it was MintMenu, and now its Cinnamon! What’s next?)


I have been using Ubuntu since Feisty Fawn and have lived through it all; the closure of Ship-It, the awesomeness that was Lucid Lynx, the taking away of our rights to easily change the GDM theme. Even when every traitor, a list that included Linus Torvalds, was cursing Unity and Gnome3, I stood by my distro. I boot into my trusty Ubuntu 14.04 about 90% of the time.

So whatever I have to say, I say it with love. Unless you are a caveman, LibreOffice kind of sucks. More especially if you were reared on the eye-hurting candy that is Microsoft Office. For all their faults, the good people of Redmond know how to make a good office suite and any die-hard Linux will have to concede the fact that even though it is extremely useful, LibreOffice is no match for, say, Office 2013 – in terms intuitive design, accessible features and, well I just have to say it, icon design. I will not mention the limited number of extensions and templates when compared to Office.


Today I just discovered another problem to add to a growing list. You see, normally I avoid LibreOffice except for the simplest of tasks, but this time I had no choice, owing to power issues, my ISP’s base station kept going offline so I couldn’t use any of my favored options: Google Drive or Office Online, which left me stuck with the LibreOffice.

But for all my brilliance, I am such a klutz when it comes to spelling and typing. I am over-reliant on spell checkers to highlight all my literary transgressions and my suspicions were roused once I reached three paragraphs of text without the familiar red line appearing anywhere in my text. Not even under the usual British spellings which I use instead of the  US English ones, a deed which usually draws the ire of spellcheckers which stubbornly believe cheque should be spelt “check”. Clicking on the ABC spell checker icon showed no spelling errors even though I could spot a few errors by eye. It would seem LibreOffice’s spell checker does not work out of the box, or maybe it’s just me.

Configuring LibreOffice’s spellchecker

I know how much newbies detest and rail against this but the terminal is the most standard way to fix things in Ubuntu. So you need to open a terminal and install the following packages:

sudo apt-get install hunspell-en-us aspell-en wamerican-large

This installs the US English spell checker and the necessary Dictionary Word file (wamerican-large).

Here are a few things you need to understand: there are several American Dictionary Word files viz: wamerican, wamerican-small, wamerican-large, wamerican-huge,wamerican-insane and wamerican-med. As the affixed adjectives describe each file contains an increasing number of words which means they will consume more disk space (by that I mean a couple of megabytes more) so choose the one you want but wamerican-large would meet most needs while wamerican-small would suit you if you were a pre-school kid. wamerican-med is full of all those tongue twisters that Doctors like to throw around-in Grey’s Anatomy, House MD and Saving Hope so if this is your thing then by all means install it.

All is now right with the world. My now functional spell-checker
All is now right with the world. My now functional spell-checker

If you are one like me and prefer the Queen’s English instead, you can install: wbritish-small, wbritish-large, wbritish-huge or wbritish-insane instead or in addition to the wamerican files. If you prefer the language of the stereo-typically docile Canadians (perhaps it’s because they are always buzzed on their famously cheap pharmaceuticals) you can always install the wcanadian files instead. In fact you can install any of the w* files by typing: sudo apt-get install w and hitting the tab key to view the available list of options and unless you are planning on writing ISIS a letter you most certainly will be content with the above options.

NB; Once you have installed the packages mentioned above you will have to restart LibreOffice for the changes to take effect, no need to restart the entire OS as would be the case if you were using that other one. You might also have to go to Tools>Language>For Selection and select your preferred Language for the spell checker to work especially if you have installed several languages. To begin spell checking just click on the familiar ABC icon in the tool bar.

A toss to the death of unassisted writing.

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16 thoughts on “LibreOffice kind of sucks, but here we are: Spell checking with LibreOffice!

  1. That interface is in one word, “ugly”. Kkkk rofl… Enough of this.. (clears throat)…
    Mr. Dzoma can you please do a review of WPS Office. There’s a free version which comes with a word processor, spreadsheets and presentations apps.

  2. so.. I know oyu were having trouble, but all you need to do is go to Tools>Options>Language Settings> and then change the “Default Languages for Documents” to the one you want. Spell check is only on ones where “abc” icon is beside the language. You can get other dictionaries at — I mean, not sure if you’re using 4.4 but none of the things you’ve described are all that true except for your preference.. which seems weird and slightly sarcastic to me. Linux Mint is a community distro run by donations, Ubuntu is run by Canonical which sells your browsing history to Amazon for targeted marketing. Just saying, you come off a bit stubborn here imo. Either way glad peeps use Linux in Zimbabwe!

    1. To clarify, I meant your preference for ubuntu over linux mint seems weird to me. And that you think Office 2013 is an ‘intuitive design’ – why do I want to click ona bunch of different tabs to get to the tool I want when i can just have it as a small button I can easily access whenever I want??

    2. Lol! It’s easy to switch of the Amazon feature but I am sure Amazon would not be interested in our data anyway! We are so poor hardly anyone of use bother with them.

      1. Thats the kind of ignorance professed by the proverbial sheep-led-to-slaughter.

        Your data is private and should only be disclosed by you willfully and knowingly. Even if it’s boring or rubbish or of little value.

    1. bs. The world was spoon fed Starting with the electric typewriter. If the general public has to type one line of code or click for one simple option then… boom the software is not considered useful

  3. I gotta admit, if this blogger wouldn’t have a map, he couldn’t find his own ass.
    Seriously…. so addicted to one way of doing things, he encounters something slightly different and doesn’t have the brains to figure it out or the intelligence to know this is what search engines are for.
    What a piece of crap article. WASTE OF TIME.

  4. Intuitive design in MS Office? For instance the ribbons and all the other nonsense?

    Give me LO any day, any time. It works, it works well, it gets the job done, and it doesn’t cost hundreds and doesn’t make me run Windows.

  5. Anybody who does some “serious” work with word, excel or powerpoint can not rely on Libreoffice or openoffice crap. Those suck so much. Libreoffice Calc freezes too much even without any such loaded sheet. I created table and saved it. Opened the file next day, the table structure was broken. I mean who really uses this crap?

  6. In using LO, I find the dictionary is missing many words that it should have. It sends me to the Internet too often just to verify that I’m not misspelling. Is wamerican-large what comes loaded with LO?

  7. This is why I am switching back to Open office! I do not like the diy aspect of any ANY linux softwear. This is why alot of people will not use Linux even though it is better! That position of Diy is failed by the average person being brought up on typewriters/MS/Apple. It’s just not fun!

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