Improve your prose with a word processor cliché detector

Darthdusty asked the Other Software & Services forum about software that will "detect and alert" him when he types certain phrases.

It sounds like you need a cliché detector--software that can catch a word, a phrase, or even a piece of punctuation that you use too often. This can be a valuable tool.

If your word processor has an Autocorrect feature, you can use it to catch certain words or phrases. A number of word processors, including the ones in LibreOffice and Google Docs, have Autocorrect. The specific instructions below are for Microsoft Word 2010 and 2013, but the general idea will work in other programs.

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Autocorrect is intended to fix common typos and misspellings. For instances, if you type thier, Autocorrect changes it to their. But it has other uses--such as shortcuts to making typing easier. Because I write a lot about online issues, I've created an Autocorrect entry that replaces int with Internet--I type three letters and get eight.

By the way, the replacement happens when you hit the spacebar, the Enter key, or any punctuation, indicating that you've finished a word. That way, I can type interest without it coming out Interneterest.

To add your own Autocorrect entries in Word, click the File tab, then Options in the left panel. In the resulting Word Options dialog box, click Proofing in the left pane. Then click the AutoCorrect Options button.

Now its time to set up your warning.

Click the Replace field and type the phrase you want to be warned against--for instance, last but not least. Then, in the With field, enter something that will catch your eye and identify the overused phrase, such as !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LAST BUT NOT LEAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Click Add, then OK.

And if, on some occasion, you actually want to type "last but not least," type it, and once Word changes the phrase to your eye-catcher, press ESC to redo the automated change.

Szczecinianin recommended another solution--a program called Repetition Detector--in the original forum discussion. I haven't looked at it.

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