What writing style does StyleWriter recommend?

StyleWriter helps you write in clear, concise English – often called plain English. Many people think plain English means simple, boring or childish. But it’s not. Think of plain English editing as cutting the complexity and redundancy in your writing to leave a clear, streamlined and flowing style your audience can read effortlessly. It’s the writing style of the best professional writers and communicators.

“Plain English is clear, straightforward expression, using only as many words as are necessary. It is language that avoids obscurity, inflated vocabulary and convoluted sentence construction. It is not baby talk, nor is it a simplified version of the English language. Writers of plain English let their audience concentrate on the message instead of being distracted by complicated language. They make sure that their audience understands the message easily.” - Professor Robert Eagleson

Newspapers such as the Financial Times or the Washington Post; magazines such as The Economist, Time and Newsweek; and best-selling books use the straightforward, plain English style. Why? Because professional writers and editors know a clear style helps their readers understand and absorb the information presented.

Plain English editing and a professional editor’s skills are similar. Both use commonsense rules to guide them to produce a more concise, clearer style. The 10 most important editing principles are:

  1. Think of your reader’s needs.
  2. Organize your content well.
  3. Write in a natural style.
  4. Keep sentences short.
  5. Use active verbs.
  6. Be specific rather than general.
  7. Cut all redundant words and phrases.
  8. Use simpler words rather than complex words.
  9. Cut down on jargon.
  10. Edit vigorously.

Newspaper subeditors spend around 90 percent of their time improving articles by cutting, simplifying and rearranging the words into a clearer style. StyleWriter teaches you this skill.

Using plain English does not mean everyone’s writing must sound the same. Writers will express ideas differently, but all writing, especially business and government writing, must still be clear. Writing in plain English means keeping to commonsense principles to produce a clear document.

“For writing punchy, effective text, even with your own whimsical style, look no further.”- Good Software Guide

Good editing simply removes the bad style habits so your individual writing style can shine through. There’s plenty of room for individual style, rhetoric and imaginative writing. So let StyleWriter help you get rid of your poor writing habits and let you express yourself in your own words.


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Will StyleWriter cure all my writing faults?

It will cure the common poor writing habits found in most writing. However, StyleWriter doesn’t check your grammar (as Word has a built-in grammar checker) or cure all faults. Instead of duplicating the features you have already built in to your word processor, StyleWriter concentrates on finding thousands of style faults and checking for good English usage that can transform your writing style.

StyleWriter uses a sophisticated and comprehensive database to match patterns in your writing style. Because it does not parse the sentence, the program is quick, working through about a page of text a second and displaying and analyzing all style and possible usage problems throughout the document.

“StyleWriter especially impressed me in flagging only a handful of false
errors that are so common with grammar checkers. Its advice was intelligent,
and it came across as a practical and effective aid to good clear writing.”

- PC Plus Magazine

There are other areas StyleWriter cannot help with—no computer program can. For example, StyleWriter cannot tell you how to plan your document or arrange your sections. It cannot tell you if the content you have chosen is good or bad. One reviewer of StyleWriter summed it up well: “StyleWriter will show you how to write anything in a clear, concise and readable style. However, if you write nonsense, it will show you how to write clear, concise and readable nonsense.”


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Who will benefit from using StyleWriter?

Just about anyone who writes.

  • Advertisers for better ads, leaflets and press releases.
  • Editors who want to use software to develop a house style.
  • Journalists to check and polish their writing style.
  • Judges for legal briefs to be just that - brief.
  • Lawyers trying to break centuries of bad writing habits.
  • Scientists who want to write clearly about complex issues.
  • Social Scientists who want to sound human.
  • Students wanting to get A-Grade essays.
  • Technical Authors for shorter, readable documentation.
  • You, if you want to learn the secrets of clear, direct language.

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What’s the business case for StyleWriter?

National governments, councils, multinational corporations, major industry bodies and others have adopted the plain English model for sound, commercial reasons — plain English saves time and money. The savings claimed for plain English are remarkable:

  • The US Navy estimated plain English could save it between $250–$300 million every year.
  • General Electric saved $275,000 by redrafting manuals into plain English.
  • The US Department of Veterans Affairs saved $40,000 redrafting one standard letter into plain English.
  • Customers in three surveys of standard letters from banks unanimously preferred the plain English versions.
  • British Telecom cut customer queries by 25 percent by using plain English.
  • The Royal Mail saved £500,000 in nine months by redesigning one form in plain English.
  • UK businesses lose £6 billion a year because of badly written letters.
  • A UK Government Plain English initiative saved £9 million in printing costs.

These savings come from organizations training key staff, employing professional writers and editors. But these people can only edit a few of the thousands of documents produced each day in large organizations. Imagine the savings if you used training and editing software to guarantee all employees wrote clear, plain English in every document.

See: Professor Joe Kimble’s article: Writing for Dollars


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What programs does StyleWriter work with?

StyleWriter works with Microsoft Word. For all other programs, you need to save your document to the clipboard. StyleWriter can then check the clipboard text. Although this does not offer the same ease of use offered when working with Word files, it means you can check any text.

Alternatively, you can copy clipboard text into Word, edit with StyleWriter and then copy the edited text back to the original program.







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Does StyleWriter work on a Mac?

We’ve designed StyleWriter to work with Word in Windows.

Although we do not support Apple/Mac, some of our users have successfully run the program on this system using products such as Parallels Desktop® for Mac, where, according to their claims:

"You don’t have to choose between Windows and Mac OS X. You can seamlessly run both side-by-side, drag-and-drop your files between operating systems, and run Windows applications on your Mac without rebooting."

If you want to download and try StyleWriter before you buy, you can do so by visiting our downloads section.

Please note that while we're happy to offer advice on using StyleWriter for Mac users, we cannot offer technical support.



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Are there different language versions of StyleWriter?

We have United States, United Kingdom and Australian versions of the program. Each international version of StyleWriter reflects the English usage of the area. Each entry in the program, its advice and help screens are consistent with the following authorities:

  • USA— Webster’s Dictionary
  • UK — Oxford Dictionary
  • Australia — Macquarie Dictionary

When you install StyleWriter, you can choose the US, UK or Australian versions or all three.





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Can I install StyleWriter on more than one machine?

StyleWriter is normally a single-user license that allow you to install on one machine. You can buy the Extended License Pack for $30 to allow you to install Stylewriter on up to three machines for your personal use. This allows you to have the program on your home, portable and work machines.

The Extended License Pack does not allow you to install one StyleWriter license on multiple work or office computers used by someone other than you or let a second user install the program.

The $30 fee covers administration, technical support and registration for each extra machine licensed.

If you have bought the license extension, install from the download file or the Software for Writers CD on each machine and complete a new registration for each copy installed and ask for a Second Authorization or Third Authorization. We will then send you codes authorizing use on your second and third machines.







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Is there a 30-day, money-back guarantee on StyleWriter?

Rather than give you a 30-day, money-back guarantee, we encourage you to download the StyleWriter free trial. That way, you don’t buy the program unless you’re 100 percent happy with it.

If you buy the program without using the trial, we will normally refund your payment if you have not Registered the software. We cannot issue refunds once you have Registered the program.

However, we will consider any requests for refunds and our decision will depend on the specific circumstances.






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How does StyleWriter calculate the Bog Index?

StyleWriter’s Bog Index is a measure that improves on the standard readability formulas. Its key feature is to measure readability with a graded word list rather than simply using a syllable count, or word length. It then rates the style and readability of your document according to document type – the Writing Task and the Target Audience.

Sentence Bog measures the effect of sentence length for different writing tasks.
Word Bog measures word difficulty (rather than word length), abbreviations and acronyms, wordiness, passive verbs and other style issues.

Pep measures features that are the hallmarks of good writing. They include proper names, interesting words, conversational expressions, direct questions, short sentences, and sentence length variety. Sentence length variety is measured by taking the sentence length standard deviation, multiplying by 10 divided by the average sentence length.

Because StyleWriter’s statistics are more comprehensive and accurate than conventional readability formulas, it can give advice on individual sentences.


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What is the Passive Index and how do I edit passive verbs?

The Passive Index shows whether you have used too many passive verbs helps you decide how many you need to change into active verbs. Too many passive verbs make writing tedious and difficult to read.

StyleWriter counts the number of passive verbs, divides them by the number of sentences and multiplies the result by 100 to give a Passive Index score.

If you have too many passive verbs, change as many passive verbs as you can into active verbs. If you can keep your Passive Index below 20, you're using a good, active writing style. If you can, write with the Passive Index below 10.

Changing passive verbs to active verbs transforms your writing. To change verbs from passive to active, either:

  1. Place who did the action first - click here to see examples

  2. Cut out as much of the passive verb as you can - click here to see examples

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What is the Style Index?

The Style Index was StyleWriter’s measure of good writing before we designed the Bog Index. The Style Index measures all plain English problems in the text, including a weighted score for long sentences. It then converts this measure into an index. The best writing consistently scores below 20 – equivalent to two style faults for every 100 words.

As the Bog Index also measures the plain English problems in the text, we recommend you use the Bog Index. As many users of previous versions liked the Style Index, the program still measures this plain English index. You can see the Style Index in your Statistical summary and save it with your other statistics to the Statistical Archive.

If you want to see the StyleWriter Index as you edit your document, right click the Bog Index on StyleWriter’s main screen and select Style Index.

StyleWriter Statistical Summary

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How does the Electronic Writing Course compare to conventional training?

Although nothing can replace an inspiring tutor in the classroom, the Electronic Writing Course has certain advantages.

  1. You can learn much more in one day using the Electronic Writing Course. You would probably learn three to four times the information, tips and ideas as you would get on a conventional course.
  2. You can learn at your own pace, spreading the training over several days.
  3. You can revisit any part of the Course to brush up your skills.
  4. In large organizations, everyone receives the same training. You can also train thousands of employees quickly and cut the cost of training.

"I suddenly realized half way through the Course how many faults had crept into my business writing style over the last 20 years. The Course shone like a beacon, highlighting the habits and showing simple techniques to transform the way I communicate. Now I just have to convince everyone in the corporation to go through this expert training."- Senior Vice President

A single-user license to the Electronic Writing Course designed for the US Federal Government costs $75 (UK £50 + VAT). Discounts are available to organizations buying large licenses.

Click here to order the Electronic Writing Course


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How much does a Course site license cost?

A customized Course means redesigning it with your employees’ writing samples and takes about two months to create. The typical cost is $100,000 for a license to use the Course to train all employees. This makes it economical in organizations of over 2,000 employees. However, the larger the organization, the cheaper it becomes to train each member of staff. In a large, global accountancy firm, the cost for training each of its 140,000 employees was less than a dollar a person.

If you want to discuss your organization's need for training in effective writing skills, please contact us.






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Do I need StyleWriter as well as the Course?

We recommend you use both programs. The Electronic Writing Course teaches staff how to write clearly; StyleWriter makes sure you follow the lessons learnt. In one organization they tested both programs. Those who used only the Electronic Writing Course only improved their writing style (as measured by StyleWriter’s indexes) by 10 percent. However, those using StyleWriter after working through the Electronic Writing Course saw their writing style improve by 50 to 90 percent.






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What is an Electronic House Style?

Our Electronic House Style service is a way to guarantee consistency in every document. While StyleWriter guarantees clear writing, a house style sets a consistent style for staff to follow. There are usually two main areas to a house style:

  1. A written house style guide
  2. Computerized house style guide

Most organizations have rules for the way to lay out reports, memos, e-mail and so on. Although you can set these up as templates in your word processor, many organizations ask us to design pop-up help screens in your word processor. These show how the finished document should look and act as a quick reference for any employee.

Most organizations have preferred ways to write dates, product names, weights and measures and so on. We can code StyleWriter for thousands of such problems and guarantee all employees write these consistently in all documents.

How much does the Electronic House Style service cost?

We usually design an Electronic House Style for our clients who take out a StyleWriter site license. In these cases, we design a house style as part of this license agreement. As a guide, an Electronic House Style to check for 2,000 problems in StyleWriter with a dozen help screens typically costs a one-off fee of $25,000

How much does a customized Electronic Writing Course to train all our employees cost?

A customized Course means redesigning it with your employee’s writing samples and takes about two months to create. The typical cost is $100,000 for a license to use the Course to train all employees. This makes it economical in organizations of over 2,000 employees. However, the larger the organization, the cheaper it becomes to train each member of staff. In a large, global accountancy firm, the cost for training each of its 140,000 employees was less than a dollar a person.


Click here to arrange a quote for the Electronic House Style service


Who is Editor Software?

Editor Software is a UK company specializing in developing writing software to help improve the quality and clarity of written communication. We’ve run training courses and an editing service for 30 years and much of this experience goes into the design of our software. We believe in the philosophy of plain English writing — a style that is clear, concise and readable. The savings to individuals and organizations in time, administration and increased sales are massive.

Click here to visit our contacts page

Can I become an Editor Software affiliate to sell StyleWriter?

Editor Software has a great affiliate program for web masters offering commissions on all our software. Click here to contact us about recommending our software.


Video Demonstrations

Introducing StyleWriter

Transform your writing into a clear, concise readable style
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Starter and Standard Editions

A StyleWriter edition to suit your budget and writing needs.
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Professional Edition

Add the unique Editor's List feature to the Standard Edition.
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StyleWriter Smart-Spell

Find errors missed by conventional spell checkers.
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StyleWriter Jargon Buster

Comprehensively check any document for jargon.
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Audience & Task

Fine-tune your writing to different audiences and tasks.
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Customizing StyleWriter

Add your own proofreading and style issues to StyleWriter.
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