Microsoft Word: Improve Your Writing
The Office 365 version of Microsoft Word has many built-in features that can help you improve your writing.
It includes some powerful grammar and refinement options. To check these out, go to File > Options > Proofing and experiment with the various settings.
How and when you use these proofing features depends on your writing style.
I prefer to hide visual distractions when creating a first draft of a paper, so I keep the grammar highlighting to a minimum. I've found that I'm more productive if I just get my thoughts down as quickly as possible and not hung up on formatting and for example, passive voice usage. I do leave spelling checking and auto-correct on, because I can really mangle words, to a point where I can't even understand what I meant to type. As I'm moving toward a final version of the paper, then I enable the full checking.
A free tool to help you
There's a neat tool I also use to check my papers for useless words that editors find I often add. It searches your document for a list of potential words or phrases and highlights any that are found. It provides an easy method of locating these highlighted words and phrases, allowing you to alter them if you wish, and then take you to the next highlighted string of text with a simple click of a button. The tool's neat not only because I wrote it, but because it's also free … right now at least.
The tool is AuthorTec Find'n Highlight.
AuthorTec Find’n Highlight is an easy to use add-in to Microsoft Word, both for Windows and Mac versions of Microsoft Office.
AuthorTec Find’n Highlight comes with nine ready-made search lists. You can use or change the included search lists and you can make your own. I recently added my personally "Useless" word list to the other nine search lists that come with the product. For marketing purposes, I didn't name the new list "Useless" but I named it "Unnecessary" … it sounds more professional. Below is an example of the main dialog you work with when using the tool. In this case, it’s showing my new Unnecessary Words list.
When you run the tool against your paper, the found words and phrases become highlighted in the color of your choice. You can use the forward and reverse Find Highlighted Text feature of the tool and edit as needed. The found words do not automatically drop or substitute, only highlight, because you may "really" want to use the word. Highlighting is easy to clear. Below is an example of this article after running Find’n Highlight.
Check it out … you may really like it!