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#1 EGOL

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 11:20 AM

I started using an online tool to help me write better content.

 

The Hemingway Editor is a tool that you can copy/paste content into and it will give you some hints on where it can be improved or better yet - simplified. 

 

Or you can compose in the tool and get hints while you write.

 

If you have something to write or something to improve give it a try.  Let me know what you think.

 

http://www.hemingway...beta/index.html

 

I have no affiliation with the people who own this tool.  Just stumbled upon it and thought it was cool.

 

 

Another tool that I recently found is Readability Score.  It assigns a grade level to your writing.  If your grade level is too high, simplifying it might help you be more effective.

 

https://readability-score.com/


Edited by EGOL, 19 May 2015 - 11:24 AM.


#2 TheAlex

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 02:08 PM

I've just tried the Hemingway link, thanks. I pasted in a 2500-word article and 40 of 140 sentences are very hard to read apparently. I disagree with some of them (actually, some of them are quotes). It's really useful for spotting when I slip into passive voice and I like the "simpler alternatives" suggestions.

 

This is the first time I've looked at some older writing since I read Stephen King's "On Writing" so it's funny to see adverbs highlighted (he doesn't like adverbs).

 

The above text after using the Hemingway app (better?):

 

I've just tried the Hemingway link, thanks. I pasted in a 2500-word article and 40 of 140 sentences were judged as hard to read. I disagree with some of them (actually, some of them are quotes). It's useful for spotting when I slip into passive voice. I like the "simpler alternatives" suggestions.
 
It's the first time I've looked at some older writing since reading Stephen King's "On Writing". It's funny to see adverbs highlighted (he doesn't like adverbs).
 
--
 
I want a Google Docs Hemingway add-on!


#3 EGOL

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 03:11 PM

I want a Google Docs Hemingway add-on!

 

I agree.  I think Google should offer them a billion.

 

 

I just copy/pasted the Hemingway "help file" into the editor.

 

 

10 of 72 sentences arehard to read.

2 of 72 sentences arevery hard to read.

3 phrases have simpler alternatives.

2 adverbs. Aim for 10 or fewer.

5 uses of passive voice.Aim for 14 or fewer.

 

 

I really didn't expect to have 0 hard to read or 0 very hard to read sentences.  It's like they say.

 

 

 

What if I want to break the rules?

Rules are meant to be broken. If you know what you're doing, don't let us stop you. View our suggestions as just that.

 



#4 earlpearl

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 09:36 AM

Lord knows I could use something like this.  I'll start reviewing and trying it out right away.  Thanks for the reference.



#5 cre8pc

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 10:30 AM

WOW!  This is way cool  :infinite-banana:  :infinite-banana:



#6 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 10:42 AM

This is an awesome tool (or could be). Just tried it on an article I wrote this morning. I like the feedback, but the interface...well...you'll see what happened to me in the screenshot below.

 

wut.png

 

That's a wee bit difficult to decipher.



#7 EGOL

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 12:29 PM

Too bad it scrambled your text.

 

I think that they are working on it.    I was using it this morning and when I moused over purple, blue, or green words it gave me a suggested replacement.   But, I am not seeing that now.

 

Also, they have a desktop version for $6.99.   I downloaded it this morning and have been using it.  Works great but does not have the formatting buttons.  However, you can add a few special characters and it will convert your document to html.  

 

# = <h1>

## = <h2>

* = <i>



#8 earlpearl

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 02:06 PM

This is an awesome tool (or could be). Just tried it on an article I wrote this morning. I like the feedback, but the interface...well...you'll see what happened to me in the screenshot below.

 

attachicon.gifwut.png

 

That's a wee bit difficult to decipher.

 

Lookie lookie.  Not a rookie (commentator).  I wish she would share more often.  ;)



#9 earlpearl

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 03:43 PM

I inputted a page of content from one of our sites:  454 words and 35 sentences:  4 sentences hard to read;  9 sentences very hard to read.  Two words with simpler alternatives;  4 uses of passive;  4 adverbs 

 

That is interesting.  I'm going to test this several times.  

 

Now I wish I had some organization assistance.

 

Thanks EGOL.



#10 EGOL

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 04:36 PM

I spend two hours on three paragraphs... got it down to all white.   But the first two paragraphs that I write about anything are really hard.



#11 TheAlex

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 05:35 AM

If/when this becomes really advanced and everyone on the Internet uses it religiously, all content will become the same.

 

I guess some of the paid writing software available already does a more comprehensive job than this so it's only a matter of time!

 

By the way, I didn't think to mention Grammarly, a Chrome extension for grammar and spell-checking. I find it quite useful, although it can cause lag sometimes if a lot of tabs are open: https://chrome.googl...obkghlhen?hl=en



#12 bwelford

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:50 AM

Yes, I would certainly put a good word in for Grammarly, which I have begun to use.  If you find having too many tags open in Chrome is causing a computing speed problem, then you can also use The Great Suspender extension, which puts them to sleep after whatever time you select.


Edited by bwelford, 21 May 2015 - 08:50 AM.


#13 EGOL

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 09:28 AM

Thanks, Barry.   I got a free Grammarly account and really liked the ability to save documents and have Grammarly check documents being prepared in Chrome.  

 

Hemingway seemed better at helping me reduce the complexity of my writing.  Too bad they don't have online document storage and too bad their desktop version doesn't sync in the cloud so I can access my documents on all of my computers. 

 

I see great uses for both, but prefer Hemingway for composing. 



#14 bobbb

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 10:29 AM

As an exercise I gave it the first 5 paragraphs of a NYT article:
http://www.nytimes.c...matic-ties.html

Grade 20 poor. All sentences are hard or very hard to read plus others.



#15 EGOL

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 11:04 AM

Grade 20 poor. All sentences are hard or very hard to read plus others.

 

I like the NYT.  I am OK with their reading levels for my own reading and I refer my visitors to NYT articles a couple times per week.  My gripe with them is that their articles are way too long.

 

 

I grabbed a few paragraphs from a three articles... 

 

Archaeology article --- Grade 23 --- didn't have lots of hard stuff, but had quotes spoken by people that were probably not as carefully crafted as written text

 

Energy article --- Grade 14 --- lots of acronyms, unusual place names

 

Technology --- Grade 10 --  story about a kid going to college and getting a job, simple



#16 bobbb

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 11:40 AM

I was expecting really high scores and I too find their articles easy to read..... yeah long.

 

Just tried an article from BBC (Health editor) Grade 14 OK

 

I'm starting to wonder what or who gets better grades (lower means better ?) They say to aid at 10. Are they telling us to dumb it down to make it better?


Edited by bobbb, 21 May 2015 - 12:15 PM.


#17 iamlost

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 06:35 PM

I'm with TheAlex:

 

If/when this becomes really advanced and everyone on the Internet uses it religiously, all content will become the same.

 

The problem with tools is that they tend to drive the user rather than the user driving the tool.

 

As an occasional check I can see it being a helpful reminder, as a default it creates a style bubble. Just as a search bubble is a serious constraint so too an imposed style. One of the quality inputs that sets quality content apart from competitors is it's voice; I'm all for my competitors 'sounding' alike.

 

I suggest that one create one's writing style before using any writing tools. Otherwise you won't have one, you'll have someone else's.



#18 bobbb

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:44 PM

EUREKA. I finally copied and pasted a grade 0 (good) text: Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

Words: 94

0 of 17 sentences are hard to read.
0 of 17 sentences are very hard to read.
0 phrases have simpler alternatives.
0 adverbs. Well done.
0 uses of passive voice.



#19 EGOL

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 09:15 PM

Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

 

Nice work!

 

The problem with tools is that they tend to drive the user rather than the user driving the tool.

 

I think I am old enough that I don't have to worry about it. 



#20 jonbey

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 03:58 AM

I almost bought it, but no Paypal.

 

Everyone else using credit card?



#21 bobbb

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 09:17 AM

I almost bought it, but no Paypal.

I too am getting like that. No Paypal no buy. They are missing the boat with that.

(and that sentence passes with grade 0 (good)



#22 EGOL

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 11:28 AM

Since we have a couple paypal comments.

 

My websites have always taken payments by credit card only, but offering folks the option of sending payment by mail (which less than 1% of customers do, but they are often old geezers like me who have not used the internet much).

 

Last month I started giving customers the option of paying with Paypal instead of a credit card using Paypal Express.  I was surprised because immediately 25% of customers used Paypal Express.  Since then the number has risen to nearly 40% of transactions.  I may have also received a tiny conversion rate increase.  

 

The problem that I am having is that 1 to 2 percent of transactions have a problem that either require a significant amount of accounting time to accommodate a glitch that occurs between Paypal and my shopping cart or results in us shipping an order then being notified by paypal that the transaction was rejected. 

 

I am almost ready to quit using paypal and now understand why so many merchants cuss about it.



#23 bobbb

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 12:40 PM

I am almost ready to quit using paypal and now understand why so many merchants cuss about it.

From the user point of view I do not have to give a (smaller) third party a credit card number. A smaller third party I may know nothing about and may not be as secure as all the logos posted on the site may indicate. Today I trust almost nobody.

 

Does that mean Paypal, Amazon, Godaddy and TigerDirect are safer? (the ones I use and the latter two do Paypal but they already had my card number). Not really and they are bigger targets but I presume they are more vigilant. Again this is a perceived attitude. I really prefer cash but.....

 

The old attitude that if I don't hang where there are lepers I lessen the chance of contracting it.



#24 EGOL

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 01:37 PM

I am operating on the old attitude that... "you can't please everybody".

 

I'll go an extra mile to please people, but when the inconvenience and cost get high enough, I know that most of the PayPal people will use a credit card if needed.

 

Its this reason why I don't accept American Express. 



#25 bobbb

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 02:11 PM

Its this reason why I don't accept American Express

You are not alone on this. They charge too much and take too much time to pay the merchant.

 

I know that most of the PayPal people will use a credit card if needed.

Agreed but I really need or want to have what is being sold.


Edited by bobbb, 23 May 2015 - 02:13 PM.


#26 EGOL

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Posted 24 May 2015 - 09:14 PM

I was just using Hemingway's website in Chrome, with Grammarly's Chrome application installed on the same machine.  Word problems in Hemingway were highlighted by Grammarly and when I click on them my document opens in a Grammarly window for diagnosis.

 

This is the best of both.



#27 WebOutGateway

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Posted 25 May 2015 - 04:29 AM

I don't agree with some, but overall I think it's a good tool for writers. I'd still recommend it. It can still guide you in what parts you should polish. Thanks EGOL!  :D



#28 Nny777

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Posted 26 May 2015 - 07:51 AM

It's a cool gadget for copy writing, but I don't think that all content should be so simplified!

 

It really doesn't like my writing. I also don't really get it, does anyone else find this hard to read?

 

"Wealthy hunters from around the world visit Africa in order to hunt animals for sport."



#29 EGOL

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Posted 26 May 2015 - 08:03 AM

"Wealthy hunters from around the world visit Africa in order to hunt animals for sport."

 

Not really, but it this is easier for me.

 

"Wealthy hunters from around the world visit Africa to hunt animals for sport."

 

"Wealthy hunters from around the world visit Africa, where they hunt animals for sport."


Edited by EGOL, 26 May 2015 - 08:17 AM.


#30 iamlost

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Posted 26 May 2015 - 11:18 AM

There are several potentially conflicting perspectives when writing for publication:
* the site's consistent voice
* the visitors' various scanning comfort
* the visitors' various reading comfort
* grammar and spelling
Yes, each can be inclusively or differently addressed depending on requirements and assets available.

Testing remains the only real right way: what converts the best :)

#31 Nny777

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Posted 27 May 2015 - 11:05 AM

Okay I've found a good use for it - writing content copy for websites. I would never use it with my personal writing because I enjoy using flowery language and complex sentences, but for an About Us page on a wooden pallets website it helps a lot!



#32 bobbb

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Posted 27 May 2015 - 11:36 AM

If it helps. We use the word "that" too often. Not sure if the two products catch this.
I read this somewhere and realised that it applied.
I read this somewhere and realised it applied.

Wealthy hunters from around the world visit Africa in order to hunt animals for sport.
Wealthy hunters from around the world visit Africa to hunt animals for sport.

The program could have said that "in order" was superfluous.
The program could have said "in order" was superfluous.

I did not want to write this because it really opens up a can of worms but it is really "on subject" in this thread.



#33 DaveChild

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 04:50 AM

How did I miss that my own site, readability-score.com, got a mention here? :)

 

I've been thinking about adding Paypal as a payment option. It sounds like it would make quite a difference, based on what you guys are saying. Would any of you be more likely to subscribe to something like that if Paypal was an option?



#34 EGOL

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 11:01 AM

Dave, when I started this thread, I didn't realize that Readability-Score.com belongs to you.  Nice work!  Congratulations!

 

I am still using HemingwayApp editor.   They charge a small amount of money to use the downloadable version - it was $10 or less.  I've paid to use it on several computers.  I'd pay more, a lot more, if it stored all of my documents in a single location that I could access from multiple computers.  Hemingway has since incorporated a readability score with a grade level into their product.   With the readability score incorporated into HemingwayApp I would probably not pay for another, separate service.

 

I have used Readability-Score.com less often than Hemingway.  I love the text analysis tools at Readability-Score.com.  The interactive editing available using Hemingway is why I use their tool so much.

 

If someone develops a tool with strong interactive editing, readability scoring, and cloud document storage - all in a single package - I would pay good money for it because it would make me more productive. 



#35 wiser3

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 12:30 PM

Why are we all trying to simplify our writing? Our corporate marketing department always told us to write everything at a grade 3 level. Why?

 

I don't understand the need to make everything as stupid as possible. Surely, the average person can read at a level higher then grade 3.

 

My favorite reading material is those that I have to concentrate on to understand and makes me think later.



#36 cre8pc

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 01:06 PM

Why are we all trying to simplify our writing?

 

Good observation.

 

In the UX field, we look at readability scores and also taxonomies, as these pertain to the target audience.  Some sites, like TV, need to dumb down the narrative. I have trouble with TV shows because to me, they're all incredibly stupid and not worth my time.  I need to be learning something, challenged, grow, etc.

 

But, for public facing sites and situations like .gov and .edu sites for example, reading and comprehension are real issues and content is purposely simplified.  



#37 iamlost

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 02:16 PM

There is a misconception around reading levels. They are what should be, a theoretical standard, not actually reflective of many/most people at that academic/age level (note the chronic angst of university faculty regarding freshman literacy).

The bog average adult reading level for western industrialised countries is grade 9. Again on average, for entertainment most folks like to read 2-levels down (grade 7) and for serious stuff, i.e. newspapers, will read 2-levels up (grade 11).
I note that Hemmingway wrote at a grade 4 level :)

What that means is that ~85% of folks can read The Old Man and the Sea, ~65%Harry Potter, ~40% Jurassic Park, ~10% EGOL's doctoral thesis.

In the past writers largely wrote for their peers. And the style and vocabulary reflected this. With the advent of universal education and popular serials in newspapers writers began to write for the masses. That being where the money was/is. And, gradually, literary simplification became the new standard.
Note: because the delivery is 'simple' does not necessarily mean so too the ideas within.
Note: although, far far too often, the two are one.

With the advent of the web another style shift occurred to accommodate skimming instead of, or in adjunct to, actual reading of content.

With the current popular fixation on content grade level/reading ease critical considerations of especial interest to web content publishers are often ignored:
* is the reader able to identify with character(s)/subject(s)?
* is the reader able to take in content/ideas without consciously thinking about individual words, how smooth the conscious flow?
Note: critical for skim writing.
* does the reader learn something (new) in a way to make them act (as desired)?

As with Nny777 (have I mentioned what a truly awesome young woman she is?) I enjoy the flowery and complex, i.e. that so populated 18th century writing. Prose as poetry. Pure intoxication!

Of course, these days poetry is even more out of fashion than prose, so many homes of even the supposedly well educated being totally book-less with not even a dictionary at hand... they shall reap as they sow and deserve it greatly...
Aside: I was going to insert Alzheimer's after reap but apparently that too is bacteria of the gut.

Ah, bah! I'd complain about the younger generation except mine own is worse; so self-centred, self-righteous, and hypocritical. Idjits of all ages abound. Myself, I am but a fool. And proud of it.
 



#38 EGOL

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 04:23 PM

My favorite reading material is those that I have to concentrate on to understand and makes me think later.

 

Yes, some people enjoy this type of writing and this type of writing helps you develop as a thinker, as a philosopher. There is a place for it and a market for it.

 

For product descriptions, I believe that my writing should be at a level that allows people to understand the message immediately and without question.  Bam!

 

 

In some topic areas, it is difficult to be precise and accurate and easy-to-understand all at the same time.  Achieving that is a time-consuming challenge for the writer.

 

The HemingwayApp helps me think about my writing and compare multiple alternative wordings for ease of understanding.   I don't always go with the lowest reading level or the easiest to understand, because sometimes accuracy or precision or both are sacrificed.



#39 bobbb

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 04:47 PM

My favorite reading material is those that I have to concentrate on to understand and makes me think later.

I would like to agree with this for technical stuff. "Get to the meat and skip the flowers".

 

Then I think of RFCs... or W3C.


Edited by bobbb, 07 December 2016 - 04:51 PM.


#40 iamlost

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 06:13 PM

It is all about the audience. One writes for the audience.
To say what you want to get across in a way that they will be receptive and appreciative.
Yet another of those simple but deceptively difficult things we tend to keep tripping over.
 

 

 

Way back when and long long ago I was actually hired to design and write the owner's manual for a blender. It was actually one of the hardest things I've ever done. To be simple and clear to the general public on a simple !!! 7-piece, 8-button blender was NOT the walk in the park I thought it would be. It took a full 2-weeks to produce a 2-fold 6-page brochure. On the plus side it got rave reviews from customers, something the company wasn't used to receiving - if often along the lines of I bought your product-A, why isn't it's manual as nice as that for product-B?.

 

And then there was the online help for a network tool...

You know that old saying about the duck gliding about the pond while underneath those feet are paddling like mad?





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