Some Useful Reading and Writing Tools

In The Writ­ing Meme, I had men­tioned about using the right tools. Here are a few tools I’ve recent­ly found.

Improve Readability

Read­abil­i­ty is a book­marklet you can add to your brows­er tool­bar to make web pages easy to read. For exam­ple, here is Thomas Fried­man, with all the clut­ter of the NYTimes site:

Friedman on NYT

Here is the same page with Read­abil­i­ty:

Friedman with Readability

TidyRead is very sim­i­lar to Read­abil­i­ty, but offers an ‘Option Bar’ at the top, where you can change dis­play set­tings at will – this makes it very con­ve­nient and easy to use:

Friedman with TidyRead

Practice Speed Reading

If you’re seri­ous about improv­ing your read­ing speed, check out Eye­r­cize. Their Read­ing Pac­er is essen­tial­ly a tachis­to­scope, and will help improve your offline (book) read­ing speed as well.

Free Online PDF to Word Converter

PDFToWord is a real­ly cool site, when you want to eas­i­ly con­vert PDF doc­u­ments to word for edit­ing. It retains all the for­mat­ting, tables, graph­ics, links, etc. mak­ing it quite indis­pens­able if you often use both PDF and Word file for­mats. Oh, and you should have the Save as PDF exten­sion to Office 2007.

Text Analysis Tools

There are a few share­ware pro­grams for ana­lyz­ing text in terms of word counts, word fre­quen­cy, etc. It is not-so-easy to find tru­ly free pro­grams, so here are a cou­ple of options:

Text Sta­tis­tics Gen­er­a­tor is a bare-bones tool, giv­ing you quick analy­sis of num­ber of word occur­rences. Here is the CPI(M) man­i­festo for the 2009 elec­tions ana­lyzed:

Text Statistics

The excel­lent UsingEnglish.com site has an Advanced Text Ana­lyz­er, which I think is more use­ful. The caveat: to use the advanced fea­tures, you have to be a reg­is­tered mem­ber of their site (reg­is­tra­tion is free).

UsingEnglish CPIM Summary

Here’s the CPI(M) Man­i­festo word cloud:

UsingEnglish CPIM WordCloud

Why use text ana­lyz­ers? Web­site design­ers using SEO tech­niques need to iden­ti­fy key­words that they can use to max­i­mize site traf­fic and ad rev­enue. The SEO phi­los­o­phy is use tar­get­ed key­words as fre­quent­ly as you can to improve your search engine rank­ings.

As a writer, I find these tools use­ful the oth­er way around. Often, I find myself overus­ing a word in an arti­cle. Word fre­quen­cy analy­sis can help iden­ti­fy which words and phras­es you’re overus­ing in your writ­ing. Maybe that’s the time you need a the­saurus!

If you find any of these tools use­ful, or have oth­er ones to share, please feel free to com­ment.

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  • That’s a pret­ty exhaus­tive list of tools! Thanks!
    I used read­abil­i­ty once, but now that blogs are more con­sis­tent, its easy to ignore unwant­ed stuff:)

  • Good to see you on your blog Mahen­dra! And looks like you are doing some read­ing on the web! 🙂 Need to check out these tools.
    btw, I think your com­ment no. 2 is a spam com­ment.

  • It’s fun­ny but that com­ment has now come last and though my com­ment was no 3 it’s gone to no 1 !

  • Mahen­dra, thanks for fea­tur­ing our new PDF-to-Word con­ver­sion ser­vice on your site. Much appre­ci­at­ed! That ‘Read­abil­i­ty’ book­marklet is a great find too.

  • Regard­ing web­page read­abil­i­ty, many sites offer a print­able ver­sion of the page. That is one handy fea­ture, one that i use a lot.

    Will try out these applications…these sound very help­ful.

  • Pingback: Wordle US & Indian Constitution, Congress & CPI(M) Manifesto « An Unquiet Mind()

  • Very use­ful! I will sure­ly see the archives soon­er than lat­er now! I love IT tips and you are in this field since quite some time! Adding you in my links page! 🙂