It’s easy to get stuck in a ‘word rut’ where you keep using the same words over and over again. It helps your writing considerably if you vary your copy with an interesting mix of powerful phrases. Unless you are a natural word smith then you will need some help. I often turn to Microsoft Word’s built in thesaurus.
To use the thesaurus highlight the word you want to replace and hit Shift and F7. A dialogue box will pop up with a number of replacements. Click the one you want to use. It can be a real surprise to learn which words can be substituted. Not only will this make your writing a lot more interesting but it will increase your word power.
If you find looking up the definition of words in a paper dictionary frustrating, (I always end up flicking back and forth and take ages to spot the word) then head over to www.dictionary.com.
You can also use Google’s definition search service. Let’s say you wanted to know what ‘entropy’ actually meant. You would enter define:entropy into Google’s search box and hit submit. It will come back with a list of definitions it has found online. Click the query below for an example: http://www.google.com/search?q=define:entropy
Other Word Features
MS Word can help you with your spelling and grammar and with writing in the active voice. To make sure these options are available to you in Word go to:
Tools > Options > Spelling & Grammar
Tick the options you want such as ‘check spelling as you type’. I would also suggest you tick the “Readability Statistics’ option, as then Word will report on the number of passive sentences you use, along with the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
The Flesch Reading Ease formula ranks reading on a score between 0 to 100. The higher the score the easier the writing is to read, with most documents averaging 60 to 70%.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level converts the Reading Ease Score to a U.S. grade-school level. The lower the grade level the easier to read.