I have seen text analysis engines before, but these engines generally are used for text mining, or data mining of text. I have never seen an app that analyzed a writer’s style. Until today. I just found Expresso, and I am incredibly impressed.
Before I get into the details, I need to say that this is one of the cleanest, purest, uncluttered apps that I have ever seen. It is beautiful in its simplicity.
From the website:
Learn practical techniques to improve your writing style
While good writing style is hard to master, there are several simple yet powerful techniques which many writing guides and coaches focus on. They can quickly improve the quality of your texts. Expresso teaches these techniques by applying them directly to your writing.
I picked a random post from my blog, and copied a random paragraph from that post, and pasted it into Expresso.
Now as I click on each stylistic “problem” from the metrics on the right, it highlights the related portions of my text, and I am able to determine whether or not to make a change. I can also change the text in the app and analyze it again if I want to.
Here I have highlighted all instances of “passive voice” (green) and “modals” (blue):
Having just discovered this internet gem, I’m sure there is a lot more to discover, and if it proves to be a really helpful tool, there is no doubt you’ll be hearing more about it. But go ahead and give it a try. Just remember, it’s not a writing god, it’s just an app, so before you go ahead and change that beautiful sentence of yours, remember:
… don’t blindly optimize metrics in your texts
Writing metrics employed by Expresso can be powerful but they are not a “magic bullet”. They highly correlate with good writing but are not the cause of it, just like umbrellas correlate with rain but, of course, don’t trigger it. Therefore, there is no benefit in optimizing the metrics blindly. For example, constructing short nonsensical sentences out of several common short words — “it”, “get”, “all”, etc — will result in a low readability grade; however, the text will be unintelligible. Instead, use highlighted metrics to identify weak areas and to get ideas for possible edits.
Good writing style remains an art, not a science…