Long past are the days of writing sentences out by hand or lugging a hefty and unforgiving typewriter around. Thank the heavens we don’t need to throw out an entire page if we mistype a single character as was necessary decades ago. In the digital era, just about everyone has used a word processor at one time or another in their lives. Word processors are great because they come with tons of extra tools to help format, search through and edit text, but too many people see them as the ultimate typing solution.
While it’s true word processors like Microsoft Word are brimming with sophisticated features, there are actually a few gaps in the features, which are filled by third party services. And guess what? Many of these third party services are completely free to use! I wish all of these features were centralized in one word processor or writing utility. Nevertheless, let’s dig in by taking a look at Cliché Finder.
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Clichés make your writing seem droll and boring, and give readers the feeling that they’ve already read your content before due to a perceived lack of originality. I’m not saying you need to rip out every last cliché from your writing, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on things. Even when you edit, it can be difficult to identify clichés, but ClichéFinder.org is a decent tool to help you avoid some of the most obnoxious clichés.
I do recommend it as a tool to sharpen your writing, but I did have a couple problems.
Firstly, I had to sanitize my text by copying it into Notepad before pasting it into the site. I’m not sure why exactly, but I suspect some special formatting characters from my word processor caused it to error.
Secondly, I wish it had a longer list of recognizable clichés. It wasn’t able to identify the cliché “to be avoided like the plague.” Still, it’s an admirable tool.
A Classic Thesaurus Versus the OneLook Reverse Dictionary
Every starry eyed writer dreams of a day when unique, original thoughts pour effortlessly from their brain without ever needing to consult a dictionary or thesaurus. For the rest of us grounded in reality, however, a thesaurus is an undoubtedly useful tool to take advantage of. Thesaurus.com is an invaluable tool anyone can use, but don’t go crazy and abuse it.
Generally speaking, you should strive to use the most natural word that comes to mind when describing a thought to promote readability. I would advise against using a thesaurus to find the longest word possible to make yourself sound smarter. But if you notice you’re overusing a word or phrase, it can help mix things up to break up the monotony for your readers.
However, if you use Google Docs, I would recommend the OneLook Reverse Dictionary Thesaurus add-on. It’s much like a thesaurus, only it comes with a lot of extra features and can be installed as a browser extension. Not only will it allow you to find appropriate synonyms, but it will also help you find the word you’re looking for when you only know the definition.
It will even help you find word associations and rhyming words as well.
Readable.IO Versus the Hemingway Editor
The Hemingway Editor gets its name from the late author Ernest Hemingway, whose writing style was characterized by compact prose that were highly readable. Instead of trying to use the biggest words and add fluff to his writing, Hemingway said as much as possible with famously straightforward vocabulary. Wait a second, isn’t that the goal of most content marketing?
Naturally, there are obvious exceptions. For instance, WritersDigest.com knows its audience well, and can get away with using uncommon words with more of a literary nature.
But for the sake of marketing content, it makes sense to be as readable as you can. Why? Because your users don’t have a lot of extra time to spend deciphering your meaning.
You have a few seconds (or less) to grab their attention, and once you have it, you’d better hold on to it as tightly as possible. To that end, you can use the Hemingway Editor to help sharpen the clarity of your work by breaking up long sentences and simplifying sentence structure. It can also help reduce adverb usage.
The desktop app does cost $20, but it does even have a WordPress integration feature.
If you don’t want to spend $20 on the Hemingway Editor, you can always use readable.io. It essentially does the same thing by computing a readability score, measuring word count and adverb metrics and even keyword densities. It’s free for occasional use, but if you want the unlimited premium version, it only costs $5.00.
For WordPress users, the Yoast SEO plugin also has a built-in readability score.
A Few Other Ideas
There are, of course, numerous other apps and tools to help aid everything from nixing the use of the passive voice to increasing productivity. A few other notable mentions include the following:
The Most Dangerous Writing App (not my favorite, but seems like a novel idea)
Read-O-Meter, which helps determine the estimated reading time
Using secondary writing tools will help improve your content production and its efficacy, which in turn translates to a more potent marketing campaign. While it is possible to only use a classic word processor, these extra tools will help give you a leg up on the competition.