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How to Write Clearly

How to Write Clearly

ADVICE TO HELP YOU WRITE CLEARLY AND CONCISELY

BLOG BY NICK WRIGHT of EDITORSOFTWARE.COM

 

StyleWriter can show you how to write a strong, convincing resume cover letter

FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2012 - page 2 of 2

New StyleWriter Professional Edition

 

Reviewing your good writing habits

The Pep (it peps up your writing style) tab shows you the good word choice in the document.

Reviewing your good writing habits

Interest words: Good writing has a vibrant and descriptive vocabulary. The words in the Interest column are strong descriptive verbs and specific nouns creating a picture in the reader’s mind. Unfortunately, only 0.4 percent of the words in the document add interest. The statistics at the bottom of each column show the total words/unique words and the percentage of the total words in the document.

Names: Writing about people rather abstract ideas mean putting proper nouns in writing. Usually these are specific names and add to a good writing style. The list of names lets you review those you have used in the document.

Conversational: The best writers have a natural, conversational style. StyleWriter measures the conversational style of the document, showing in this list contractions, phrasal verbs (such as agree on, came up, carried out, coming from) and short sentences and direct questions.

Editor’s List Statistics

Statistics for each group of words appears at the foot of each column. For example, 47/29 – 0.4% for interest words tells you the program has found 47 words/29 unique words and the 47 makes up 0.4% of the total words in the document. You can use the percentage words to see how you compare to another author analyzed. For example, when we analyzed 10 documents from different publications and sources we found:

  Documents Interest Words Names Conversation Pep Index
TIME Magazine 10 3.4% 6.9% 9.9% 20
Newsweek 10 2.1% 7.0% 7.4% 16
Government News 10 1.2% 3.8% 2.6% 8
TIME Magazine 10 0.6% 1.5% 1.7% 7

 

 

As you can see, the professional journalists’ style had more interest, names and conversational style than government writers did. You can use the Pep analysis on the Editor’s List to review your use of these key features of conversational, interesting and journalistic style.

Working out your word habits

The All tab analysis shows you every word in your document.

All words list Tab

This list shows you all the words found, the common (glue words) and a short list with the 200 most common words in the language removed. Sorting by frequency and looking at the short list tells you about your writing habits.

Here you can see the most common words in your word choice. For example, this writer has a fondness for the word process (56 times) and processes (24 times).

You can record you vocabulary by saving any list. To save the Short list of your word choice:

  1. Click a word in the list.
  2. Click Save.

Saving words

A box appears to let you save the All Words – Short List.

  1. Confirm you want to save this list to the folder shown as All-Short list.txt by clicking Save.

In this way you can save each All - Short list words each time you analyze a document with StyleWriter. Just remember to save to a different name each time. Then you can combine the lists into one file and import them into a spreadsheet to get an accurate picture of your word choice.

Summarizing your Style Issues

The Bog and Wordy tabs show you your writing style. Although StyleWriter gives you statistics of your style problems and highlights them in the text, the Professional Edition lets you see them summarized in the Editor’s List. The Bog tab summarizes the style issues that detract from clarity.

Bog Words

The left-hand column shows the words that detract from easy reading. A few percent of these words in a document will not cause most readers any problem. But the more you use in a document, the less readable it becomes.

Tip: If you want a further breakdown of these heavy words, look at the Graded tab.

The Style words are those StyleWriter advises on to edit from your writing. The specialist words are there to review to check they are suitable for your intended audience.

The Wordy tab shows you the passive verbs, hidden verbs and wordy phrases found in the document.

Wordy Tab

This again shows you your poor writing habits.

Add your own lists

The User tab lets you see anything you have added to the program.

Create your own Word Lists

For example, if you add patterns to StyleWriter’s house style category, any found in the documents will appear in the left-hand column. You can also add your own categories to StyleWriter. Here, for example, we’ve added a Personal category. Any patterns added to a category you create will appear here.

Upgrade to the professional version

Existing StyleWriter 4 users can upgrade to the Professional Edition for $40. Have a look at the demonstration of the Professional Edition on our home page of this blog or our website www.editorsoftware.com. If you want more information on how to pay to upgrade to the Professional Edition from the Standard Edition, please contact me.

 

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