Skip to main content


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.

Types, formats, and scopes#

Vale classifies files into one of three types—markup, code, or text—that determine what scopes are available.

Within each type, there can be multiple supported formats—such as Markdown and AsciiDoc under markup. Since each format has access to the same scopes, rules are compatible across all formats within a particular type.


headingMatches all <h{1,...}> tags. You can specify an exact level by appending a tags—for example, heading.h1 matches all h1 tags.
table.headerMatches all <th> tags.
table.cellMatches all <td> tags.
listMatches all <li> tags.
paragraphMatches all paragraphs (segments of text separated by two newlines).
sentenceMatches all sentences.
linkMatches all <a> tags.
altMatches all alt attributes.
blockquoteMatches all <blockquote> tags.
summaryMatches all body text (excluding list items, headings, and table cells).
codeMatches all <code> tags.
strongMatches all <strong> and <b> tags.
emphasisMatches all <em> and <i> tags
rawUses the raw, unprocessed markup source instead of a specific scope.


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.



Heads up!

Markdown autolinks are not currently supported. See issues/288 for more information.

GitHub-Flavored Markdown support is built in. By default, indented blocks, fenced blocks, and code spans are ignored.

If you're using another flavor of Markdown, see non-standard markup for information on how to make your flavor compatible.


HTML5 support is built in. By default, script, style, pre, code, and tt tags are ignored.


reStructuredText is supported 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 is supported through the external program Asciidoctor.

By default, listing blocks and inline literals are ignored.


Heads up!

Due to the dependency on the third-party dita command, you'll likely experience worse performance with DITA files compared to other formats.

DITA is supported through the DITA Open Toolkit. You'll need to follow the installation instructions, including the optional step of adding the absolute path for the bin directory to the PATH system variable.

By default, <codeblock>, <tt>, and <codeph> elements are ignored.


XML is supported through the external program xsltproc.

You also need to provide a version 1.0 XSL Transformation (XSLT) for converting to HTML:

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


LanguageExtensionsTokens (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), .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), .pm, .pod# (text.comment.line.ext)
PHP.php// (text.comment.line.ext), # (text.comment.line.ext), /*...*/ (text.comment.line.ext), /* (text.comment.block.ext), .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.

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$]+\$+)

Markup-based configuration#

You can use selective, in-text configuration through markup comments in certain formats. The follow sections describe the comment style required for each supported format.

Markdown & HTML#

Markdown and HTML use HTML-style comments:

<!-- vale off -->
This is some text
more text here...
<!-- vale on -->
<!-- vale Style.Rule = NO -->
This is some text
<!-- vale Style.Rule = YES -->


reStructuredText uses its own comment style:

.. vale off
This is some text
.. vale on


AsciiDoc uses HTML-style comments with its pass-through functionality:

pass:[<!-- vale Microsoft.GenderBias = NO -->]
This steward is ignored.
pass:[<!-- vale Microsoft.GenderBias = YES -->]
This is a steward that raises an alert.