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Sunday, January 19

Sunday Writing Tip: A Trick for Finding Overused Words in Your Manuscript

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your manuscript to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week’s tip is a bit different, but one I find incredibly useful. It’s my favorite trick to easily spot specific words or phrases.

To find all occurrences of a single word in a manuscript, do a search for it and replace it with the same word in bold and red.


That makes whatever you’re searching for pop out. Not only will it be easier to find, you’ll be able to clearly see how many times you’ve used that word of phrase on a page. The bold red stands out even when you zoom out of the page and can’t read the exact words anymore.

For more editing tips for your novel, try these articles:

8 comments:

  1. Good tip. Plus, once you've done that to one or more words, in Word you can search for "anything in bold" by setting the search for the format and leaving the text blank. And, if the Search box isn't open, control-PageDown will jump you straight to the next example of whatever you last searched for.

    (I often run a search for "Chapter" so I'm ready to fast-flick to the next chapter. Or for centered text, so I can jump to the next chapter or * * * scene break.)

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    1. Excellent suggestion Ken!

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    2. Good tips, thanks! I'll also put ***start here in the text to remind me where I left off if I'm revising or critiquing.

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  2. Cool trick! It's amazing what a word processing program can do.

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    1. It is. There are a lot of useful tricks we don't even realize are there until someone points them out.

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  3. I like TagCrowd, it creates a visual of the most common words in a submission. It ignores little words like and, of, with. I can tell it to ignore my characters names. The top 20 words are the ones I highlight in the manuscript in different colors.

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