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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 (i.e., a particular section of text) 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 table below summarizes all available scopes.

Heads up!

You can target a specific heading level by appending its HTML tag to a scope. For example, heading.h1 only targets h1-level headings.

Format Scopes
markup heading, table.header, table.cell, list, paragraph, sentence, link, alt, blockquote, summary
code comment.line, comment.block
plain text text


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


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


Vale supports reStructuredText through the external program rst2html. If you have Sphinx or docutils installed, you shouldn't need to install rst2html separately.

By default, it ignores literal blocks, inline literals, and code-blocks.


Vale supports AsciiDoc through the external program AsciiDoctor. By default, it ignores listing blocks and inline literals.


Syntax 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—e.g., 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.