Objective Tools to Assess Writing
by Dan Walsh
Four tools that have made me a better writer.
Objective feedback is one of the best tools for improving any skill. It’s the reason companies pay big money for consultants. It’s the reason executives pay for coaches and you or I would pay a personal trainer. Objective feedback is effective because it gets past our emotional barriers. It’s easier to internalize and use as a guide toward improvement. I have used the following four tools to objectively assess and improve my writing.
These tools help me clean up my posts and iteratively improve my writing.
Bla Bla Meter
I’m not exactly sure how the Bla Bla Meter measures the amount of BS in a body of text, but it’s an interesting little litmus test. The score isn’t actionable, but I can get an idea if what I wrote was complete shit.
The score for this post is: .31. Not bad, but not awesome.
The Gunning Fog Index
Journalists developed the the Gunning Fog Index as way to measure the accessibility of their articles. This tool scores writing based on clarity and word usage. Penalties are assessed for long sentences and cumbersome words. The score is equivalent to an academic reading level.
The score for this post is: 8.418. Which means anyone above an 8th grade reading level will have no problem understanding this post.
Wordle is a slick word cloud generator. I use is to assess the general theme of a post and to identify any overused words. The bigger the word, the more I used it. If words like really and very are large then I know I need to make my writing more forceful.
Wordle is also a great way to find SEO words (if you’re into that) or create a relevant headline for a post.
The top scoring keywords for this post are: post, score, words, bla, gunning, fog, wordle, writing… Not exactly mind blowing this time around.
This tool is similar to the Gunning Fog Index tool. Hemingway was a journalist after all. I like it because the interface is easy to use. It’s my favorite tool on this list because it provides me with the most corrective feedback.
The score for this post is: