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Vale is "syntax aware," which means that it's capable of both applying rules to and ignoring certain sections of text. This functionality is implemented through a scoping system. A scope is specified through a selector such as paragraph.rst, which indicates that the rule applies to all paragraphs in reStructuredText files. Here are a few examples:

  • comment matches all source code comments;
  • comment.line matches all source code line comments;
  • matches all Markdown headings; and
  • text.html matches all HTML scopes.

The type of file you're working with determines what scopes are available. The supported types are markup, code, and text.

Available Scopes


Scope Description
heading Matches all <h{1,...}> tags. You can specify an exact level by appending a tags—for example, heading.h1 matches all h1 tags.
table.header Matches all <th> tags.
table.cell Matches all <td> tags.
list Matches all <li> tags.
paragraph Matches all paragraphs (segments of text separated by two newlines).
sentence Matches all sentences.
link Matches all <a> tags.
alt Matches all alt attributes.
blockquote Matches all <blockquote> tags.
summary Matches all body text (excluding list items, headings, and table cells).
code Matches all <code> tags.
strong Matches all <strong> and <b> tags.
emphasis Matches all <em> and <i> tags


There are two code scopes: comment.line and comment.block.


Any format not listed below is considered to be text and has no special scoping rules applied.


Markdown [markup]

Vale has built-in support for GitHub-Flavored Markdown. By default, it ignores indented blocks, fenced blocks, and code spans.

HTML [markup]

Vale has built-in support for HTML. By default, it ignores script, style, pre, code, and tt tags.

reStructuredText [markup]

Vale supports reStructuredText through the external program rst2html. You can get rst2html by installing either Sphinx or docutils.

By default, literal blocks, inline literals, and code-blocks are ignored.

AsciiDoc [markup]

Vale supports AsciiDoc through the external program Asciidoctor.

By default, listing blocks and inline literals are ignored.

DITA [markup]


You'll need to manually add the dita-ot-X.X.X/bin directory to your $PATH.

Vale supports DITA through the DITA Open Toolkit.

By default, script, style, pre, code, and tt tags are ignored.

XML [markup]

Vale supports XML through the external program xsltproc.

In order for Vale to understand your XML, you need to provide a version 1.0 XSL Transformation (XSLT) for converting to HTML:

Transform = docbook-xsl-snapshot/html/docbook.xsl

Source Code [code]

Language Extensions Tokens (scope)
C .c, .h // (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
C# .cs, .csx // (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
C++ .cpp, .cc, .cxx, .hpp // (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
CSS .css /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
Go .go // (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
Haskell .hs -- (text.comment.line.ext), {- (text.comment.block.ext)
Java .java, .bsh // (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
JavaScript .js // (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
LESS .less //(text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
Lua .lua -- (text.comment.line.ext), --[[ (text.comment.block.ext)
Perl .pl, .pm, .pod # (text.comment.line.ext)
PHP .php // (text.comment.line.ext), # (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
Python .py, .py3, .pyw, .pyi, .rpy # (text.comment.line.ext), """ (text.comment.block.ext)
R .r, .R # (text.comment.line.ext)
Ruby .rb # (text.comment.line.ext), ^=begin (text.comment.block.ext)
Sass .sass // (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)
Scala .scala, .sbt //(text.comment.line.ext),
Swift .swift // (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext)

Non-Standard Markup

When working with non-HTML markup, you'll probably find that there are certain non-standard sections of text you'd like to ignore. Vale supports doing this at both the block and inline levels.

To ignore entire blocks of text—for example, Hugo's shortcodes—you'll want to define BlockIgnores. For example, consider the following shortcode-like file snippet:

{< file "hello.go" go >}
package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
    fmt.Printf("hello, world\n")
{</ file >}

To ignore all instances of file, we'd use a pattern along the lines of the following:

BlockIgnores = (?s) *({< file [^>]* >}.*?{</ ?file >})

The basic idea is to capture the entire snippet in the first grouping. See regex101 for a more thorough explanation.

You can also define more than one by using a list (the \ allows for line breaks):

BlockIgnores = (?s) *({< output >}.*?{< ?/ ?output >}), \
(?s) *({< highlight .* >}.*?{< ?/ ?highlight >})

To ignore an inline section of text, you'll want to define TokenIgnores. For example, let's say we want to ignore math equations of the form $...$:

$\begin{bmatrix} k & k & k \end{bmatrix}^T$

Similar to BlockIgnores, we just need to define a pattern:

TokenIgnores = (\$+[^\n$]+\$+)

See Configuration for more details.