Correct your chemical spelling mistakes

The current version of the chemical spellcheck is 3.0 now available via the sciencebase download. It sports a massively reduced filesize, adds OpenOffice accessibility and includes lots of new user-suggested words. Check it out…

Chemist Adam Azman contacted me more several years ago to ask if I knew of a free or open source chemistry spellchecker custom dictionary for Word or OpenOffice. Searches had revealed only paid-for dictionaries. We both agreed that a free chemical spellchecker would be very useful to all scientists working with chemicals, so Adam set about creating from scratch an open access chemistry dictionary.

The spellchecker files were originally hosted on my Chemspy.com site but are now available on Sciencebase.com. Adam did a lot of extra work with my good friend Tony Williams of Chemspider to develop the new, improved version 3.0: Chemistry Dictionary for Word/OpenOffice (1MB zip file).

Keywords: Open Access Chemistry Dictionary, Open Source Chemistry Dictionary, Microsoft Word Chemistry Dictionary, OpenOffice Chemical Dictionary. Original post 2008-02-08

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rock god.

24 thoughts on “Correct your chemical spelling mistakes”

  1. NLP, it’s a dictionary for spellchecking against, not a definition’s lookup. What do you mean by chemical definitions, you mean synonyms for chemical names – try http://www.chemspider.com – there’s a search box in the sidebar on this site.

    db

  2. Is your document useful for novices, or only for more advanced people? I didn’t want to download an unknown file without knowing what it’s like, or if it would be of any use to me. Maybe you could show a sample of what one would find if they used your document.
    I’ve just been looking for a list of chemicals & their definitions and having a surprisingly hard time finding one. Thanks,

  3. David…as you know we have now contributed the list of ChemSpider identifiers to Adam to help expand his dictionary. Adam is progressing with his work…a long torturous task now to look for obvious spelling errors if they exist…

  4. I’ve created a gmail account for the dictionary. Perhaps this can be used for general questions/comments/suggestions as well as that virtual ‘drop box’ for absorbing other chemists custom dictionaries.

    chemdictionary@gmail.com

  5. For a word like analyse, it should be an s

    Ahh… so we’re taking sides now, are we? ;)

    AA- NOT from the UK…

  6. I could perhaps try to sift through that and get out the chemical terms if you like, would that be of any use?

    Any improvements to the dictionary will ultimately be of great help – as an incomplete/incorrect dictionary is never the goal. Thank you much for offering.

    a list of named reactions and the top 10000 chemists in the world past and present would probably make a useful addition

    I thought about that, as well as common abbreviations/molecular formulas (e.g. NaOH would be a misspelled word right now). I ultimately left them out, primarily because they are not ‘words’ but either proper names or formulas or abbreviations. What does the community think? Would including names/reactions/formulas be a useful and necessary improvement?

    there’s probably no way to pool that kind of information easily…but I wonder whether there might be some way to assimilate it somehow

    1st, dictionary files are not mutually exclusive. Installing this chemistry dictionary will not override any entries a user may have added-to-dictionary previously. Thus, if by assimilate you meant within one’s own personal computer, there should be no problems.

    2nd, a bit of Microsoft trivia. If a user has previously added words to their dictionary, the added term is not appended to the user’s default English dictionary. Rather, Word creates a “custom” dictionary on your behalf, and conveniently names it CUSTOM.dic. Search your computer (Start Menu–>Search) for ‘custom.dic’ But before you begin the search, click on ‘More Advanced Options’ to make sure ‘Search Hidden Files and Folders’ is checked. That should point you to the location of your custom dictionary file.

    As for pooling the information, here’s what I see. If we had some kind of virtual ‘drop box’ where users could submit a text file (.txt or .dic) with their own personal custom dictionary (preferably with only the chemistry relevant terms in it), those could be easily merged into this dictionary file.

  7. I think a list of named reactions and the top 10000 chemists in the world past and present would probably make a useful addition to this project. Adam, what do you think? I know the Merck Index includes a list of named reactions. SJB also hits on the point that countless chemists will have added chemical words to their builtin dictionaries in Word, there’s probably no way to pool that kind of information easily…but I wonder whether there might be some way to assimilate it somehow

    DB (from the UK too)

  8. Ok, I understand now.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t have a dedicated chemical dictionary for my electronic wordprocessing, and many of the words that I have added as a result of dissertation writing and the like are merely names of authors (unless I needed further use, like mentioning Suzuki-Miyaura couplings every now and then). I could perhaps try to sift through that and get out the chemical terms if you like, would that be of any use?

    S (from the UK)

  9. The chemistry.dic file can be opened with NotePad and the entire list can be viewed. It can also be edited within NotePad if there are glaring errors or obvious omission. Save when you close and your dictionary will be updated.

  10. You’re right Stephan. Sulfur is correct to all chemists in theUS and UK, but aluminium and caesium are IUPAC spellings but US still use aluminum and cesium. Outside of chemistry there are widespread inconsistencies. For a word like analyse, it should be an s because it comes from the Greek which uses sigma, but US spelling for words with that kind of suffix is invariably a z.

    There is an issue, but maybe it’s not as important as some observers have suggested in a chemical dictionary.

    The thing is we’d have to have two versions to ensure consistency in a single spell-checked document.

    db

  11. I’m not too sure what you mean by UK spellings, certainly things like sulfur/sulphur should be the former by IUPAC, and things like organize/-ise are I think interchangable (as long as consistency is applied) IMO.

    Did you have any obvious problem words – could have a look through the dictionary for example?

    S

  12. Zip file has been updated with detailed installation instructions and a file history. Read the install.txt file for more information.

    The dictionary is now covered under the Creative Commons Attribution License. See here for more information: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/

    Adding UK spellings is a priority update, but I don’t know all the UK rules. I’ll re-comment when that issue has been resolved.

  13. Sounds very useful indeed. The article mentions the intention to be opensource, which I think is great!

    I suggest to add a copyright statement, the license and the install instructions to the .zip. The first two are important if we want to get it packaged for Linux distributions.

  14. The chemistry dictionary is now available for free from ChemSpy.com courtesy of Adam Azman of UNC. Azman asked me to note that some of the names in the list are nonsense, but that doesn’t detract from the value of the dictionary because no one will try to use them in an actual document anyway.

    “Propylethane is meaningless and everyone would just name it as pentane,” he muses, “But it’s faster and easier to leave the nonsense chemicals in (spelled correctly!) than weed them out one by one, and MUCH faster than trying to add 10,000 iterations one at a time.”

  15. Thanks for giving me the platform to disseminate this to whomever wants it. I hope it will help my fellow chemists.

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