Could you use a character counter?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a terrific online app called Character Counter….

Please, let me introduce you to a new editor. He goes by the name Character Counter. Find him here, paste in your text and watch him calculate all sorts of writing-related metrics on your behalf. And he won’t even charge you a cent.

Best of all — to me, at least — he even tracks sentence length. As I reported in a recent blog post, writers should aim at an average sentence length of 14 to 18 words. (This number can be raised to 20 words for academic writers.) Note that in saying this, I am NOT suggesting that every sentence should be 14 to 18 words. Instead, your average should fall into this range, as a result of sentences showing a wide variety of lengths, from 1 word to 40 or more.

Because counting words is a tedious job, I’ve usually suggested writers use the for calculating their average sentence length at no cost. Now, however, I’m pleased to report that Count Wordsworth is a much prettier and more transparent tool. Also, it offers so much more than online-utility. In addition to average sentence length (the second metric on the Count’s list), it also checks for cliches, “to be” verbs, most used words and phrases and readability scores.

Of course, my hands-down favourite software, ProWritingAid,  comes at a price. But to my mind, it’s a reasonable one given all it will do for you. Still, if you have no budget for helping your writing, Count Wordsworth is an excellent option.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Aug. 28/17.

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