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Research aimed at correcting words in text has focused on three progressively more difficult problems:(1) nonword error detection; (2) isolated-word error correction; and (3) context-dependent work correction. In response to the first problem, efficient pattern-matching and n-gram analysis techniques have been developed for detecting strings that do not appear in a given word list. In response to the second problem, a variety of general and application-specific spelling correction techniques have been developed. Some of them were based on detailed studies of spelling error patterns. In response to the third problem, a few experiments using natural-language-processing tools or statistical-language models have been carried out. This article surveys documented findings on spelling error patterns, provides descriptions of various nonword detection and isolated-word error correction techniques, reviews the state of the art of context-dependent word correction techniques, and discusses research issues related to all three areas of automatic error correction in text.