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I have initiated online spell checking in .vimrc with

autocmd FileType docbk set spell spelllang=en
autocmd FileType docbk highlight SpellBad cterm=underline ctermfg=red ctermbg=none

in my plugin's after/syntax/ directory, i created docbk.vim file with the following content:

    syntax spell toplevel

to prevent spellchecking XML markup (although i dont know what it's actually doing...).

The problem is that while everything is working fine, text inside <title>text</title> is not spellchecked at all.

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I assume that spell check also doesn't work in <emphasis>, <remark>, <comment> and <citation>.

The syntax file for DocBook is rather old (2012) and I don't know if it is still maintained. Anyway you should try to contact the maintainer. See top of file $VIMRUNTIME/syntax/dockbk.vim.

What you can do now:

Copy the file $VIMRUNTIME/syntax/docbk.vim to your ~/.vim/syntax (on Windows: ~/vimfile/syntax) directory. Execute :echo $VIMRUNTIME in Vim display the value of $VIMRUNTIME.

Open the file and locate the lines:

" Add special emphasis on some regions. Thanks to Rory Hunter <roryh@dcs.ed.ac.uk> for these ideas.
syn region docbkRegion start="<emphasis>"lc=10 end="</emphasis>"me=e-11 contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity keepend
syn region docbkTitle  start="<title>"lc=7     end="</title>"me=e-8 contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity keepend
syn region docbkRemark start="<remark>"lc=8    end="</remark>"me=e-9    contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity keepend
syn region docbkRemark start="<comment>"lc=9  end="</comment>"me=e-10   contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity keepend
syn region docbkCite   start="<citation>"lc=10 end="</citation>"me=e-11 contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity keepend

Than add ,@spell behind sgmlEntity. So this lines look like this:

" Add special emphasis on some regions. Thanks to Rory Hunter <roryh@dcs.ed.ac.uk> for these ideas.
syn region docbkRegion start="<emphasis>"lc=10 end="</emphasis>"me=e-11 contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity,@spell keepend
syn region docbkTitle  start="<title>"lc=7     end="</title>"me=e-8 contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity,@spell keepend
syn region docbkRemark start="<remark>"lc=8    end="</remark>"me=e-9    contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity,@spell keepend
syn region docbkRemark start="<comment>"lc=9  end="</comment>"me=e-10   contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity,@spell keepend
syn region docbkCite   start="<citation>"lc=10 end="</citation>"me=e-11 contains=xmlRegion,xmlEntity,sgmlRegion,sgmlEntity,@spell keepend

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