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We are building an application which will contain spell checking features for areas where users will enter input.

We have already implemented the feature for our rich text editors, whereby spell checking can be turned on and off by using a toggle button.

We are now considering whether we should enable spell checking for things like text input fields or the "tags" input widget on the stackexchange sites, where users are only expected to enter a small amount of data.

Will this feature be useful and not annoy users at the same time? To reduce clutter, we are thinking to NOT include a toggle button to turn spell check on and off for text inputs and tag input widgets.

Do users tend to react well to spell checking?

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How uniform is the content that your customers will be entering, and will they all be from the same part of the world?

If they need to enter names, or other irregular words like place names, then spell checking is a bad idea. If it's just general text where they won't need any non-dictionary words, and they all use the same spelling system (e.g. UK v US English), then it may be helpful.

That said, most modern browsers include spell checking anyway and at least that is set by the person using it. I for one would be annoyed a US spell check when I use UK spelling.

As always, test with your customer base and see what matters to them.

  • Yes some people get quite touchy about being told that their local version of English isn't spelt properly. – PhillipW Oct 26 '11 at 9:20
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If the text your users is entering is "normal" (not specific language for your site), the least intrusive option would be to trigger the user's browser spell check, as defined in the HTML 5 spec. The user is used to the behavior of their browser's spell check, which is typically unobtrusive.

  • This is a great idea. Didn't know that this existed in HTML 5 :) – F21 Oct 27 '11 at 0:18

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