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Thursday, May 12, 2011

 

In Review: DARedit Editing Software from AutomatedEditing.com

I love to write. Taking in the information from the world around me and transmuting it into what I hope is a cohesive structure that others can understand and relate to gives me a sense of purpose and connection. Once I feel that I am close to being finished though my enthusiasm takes a dive—it’s editing time. All the time spent reading and rereading the same document hoping I don’t miss a mistake and knowing that I probably will—it’s such a grind! If the editing process lands you slumped in despair banging your head with your mouse you need to check out AutomatedEditing.com.

After listening to an author’s frustrated ranting about the time and expense of editing a new book, Don Russell, a nationally known software developer, took up the call. Combining his talents with those of an author and a teacher Don created an ingenious, user-friendly site where writers and editors can cut their editing time by hours or even days!

I had the opportunity to try the Standard version of Don's software which allows up to 10,000 characters per document. It worked great! DARedit caught punctuation, grammar and even style issues (like low numbers being spelled out). I'm impressed. Below, I share with you how to use the software and what I've found along the way.

How It Works:

The magic lies in linguistic algorithms that evaluate sentences for what might be wrong. Simply paste a copy of your already spell-checked manuscript into the window provided. The DARedit Manuscript Editing System then matches the text against an already substantial and constantly expanding bank of knowledge and offers back an analysis.

Anything that says "cut and paste" sounds like something even I can handle, so I gave it a whirl. I fed it emails, .pdfs, text from Blogger, and Word .docs complete with embedded links and highlighting. Here is what the readout looks like:


The summary states character count, word count, sentence count and how many errors were found.


The detailed report shows errors in punctuation, improper word usage, participial phrasing, clauses of reason and more. Hard Errors are those known as problems 80% of the time; Flags are suspected errors that need a discriminating eye. Copy the analysis and save it in your own file. Knowing which areas to review and which ones are clean frees up time to devote to those processes of editing requiring human evaluation such as Point of View. Read more information on DARedit’s capabilities at the end of this page.



What I Found:

DARedit will analyze the body of the text in emails but doesn’t like the email addresses, everything else went through just fine.

There is a slight discrepancy (less than 2%) in word count statistics between DARedit and Microsoft Word, but then, I can get two different readings in Word depending on if I use the Tools or the Spell-check function.

DARedit is based on CMS (Chicago Manual of Style), I had the opportunity to compare a DARedit analysis with a professionally edited version of the same document (the ultimate test).

I found that the professionally edited version was stricter on comma usage. DARedit assists with the editing process; it does not entirely eliminate the need for professional editing. However, it did catch a few things that the human editor missed! For instance, punctuation outside of quotation marks and quotation marks missing when the quote spanned two paragraphs. It also gave hints about passive voice, suggested I change "felt like" to "felt as if" and reminded me that when using "which" there is a comma but when using "that" there is not.

Try It Now for FREE:

Go ahead…try it! Open up any file and copy the document (up to 2000 characters). Click here. Paste the document into the window and click GO. You will receive a summary without the error detail.

Note: Manuscript must be in Microsoft Word or compatible format, written in English and spellchecked. At the present time DARedit can not accept documents from screenplay programs or web design programs and can not guarantee results for advanced technical terminology. Click for more information.

The Benefit:

The true benefit of using the DARedit system is the time saved in locating errors. Although the detailed report will lend hints as to what the errors may be it will not tell you how to fix them. Think of it as an expert pair of eyes combing through the text marking all the places that need attention. Although some of us may need to keep that stack of reference books on our desk, with AutomatedEditing.com we have a better chance of producing a clean manuscript. No more grind!

Costs: As mentioned above, you can try it out for free, but the paid version includes all the features. Prices start at $25 a month for membership, which includes a 2,000 character limit (roughly a 6-page document) per day. You can find all of their service pricing here. I suggest their one month trial.

Coming Soon: DARedit is constantly upgrading services. Soon to come:

- Checkboxes to customize your readout
- Verb tense editing

Members remain informed about update news via a window on their screen.

Other services: In addition to software-assisted editing DARedit offers complete editing services and author evaluations.

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I hope you'll find the DARedit software as helpful as I did. Try it for flash fiction, short stories, and novels, or nonfiction articles, blog posts, and emails. It will help polish your work before you hit the send button. Enjoy!

By Robyn Chausse

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