How do I prepare and upload spell check dictionaries for biodiversity in South Africa?

Leslie Powrie L.Powrie at
Mon Oct 29 00:19:50 PDT 2012

I have prepared spell check dictionaries for use in MS Office for South African botanical (48011 names), zoological (30884), and physical feature (107428) names.

I see that, although Office 2007 and later handle these in a single .dic file (although I have separated them into three files (SANBI_Spell_Bot.dic, SANBI_Spell_Zoo.dic, SANBI_Spell_Phys.dic), it seems as though LibreOffice has a limit on dic file size. In Word 2003 I had to limit the file size and so had four files (ae_precis.dic, fl_precis.dic, lp_precis.dic, qz_precis.dic).

It seems as though LibreOffice probably has a similar limit. It appears as though the limit may be 30000 names.

But another problem is with accented characters. Many of our place names have ö, ô, é and so forth. So although the dictionary has the name Aasvoëlkranskloof
In it,
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the encoding means that it does not recognise the name. It seems as though the dictionary might need to be UTF-8, or Unicode, but cannot make out which. I tried creating a dictionary in LibreOffice and it seems as though it is a UTF-8 file, but I think I tried it yesterday and it was Unisys. It seems as though the standard.dic is ANSI.

What do you suggest for getting the spell checkers ready? Will you guide me in preparing .dic files, or is the extension .oxt the way to go?

I downloaded the technical.dic, and it appears to be ANSI, although it did not open in NotePad with the line breaks. I opened in in Excel, then copied it to technical.dic in NotePad, closed it in Excel, then closed it in NotePad and now it has the line breaks. But is there a reason that it was saved like that? I am also intrigued by what appear to be synonyms LibreOffice=

Is this something I need to consider?

Once ready, how do I upload them?

Kind regards


Les Powrie MSc (Mr.)
Deputy Director: Information Technology Advisory Services
Applied Biodiversity Research Directorate (and National Vegetation Map Committee)
South African National Biodiversity Institute
Kirstenbosch Research Centre, office B28
Private Bag X7, Claremont, 7735
Phone: +27 21 799 8600 (switchboard), +27 21 799 8703 (direct)
Fax: +27 86 555 9367, Mobile: 084 707 6297 (try landline first during office hours)
E-mail: l.powrie at<mailto:l.powrie at>
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