Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-1 Writing Tools - The STYLE and DICTION Programs L. L. Cherry AT&T Bell Laboratories Murray Hill, New Jersey 07974 W. Vesterman Livingston College Rutgers University ABSTRACT Text processing systems are now in heavy use in many companies to format documents. With many documents stored on line, it has become possible to use computers to study writing style itself and to help writers pro- duce better written and more readable prose. The system of programs described here is an initial step toward such help. It includes programs and a data base designed to produce a stylistic profile of writing at the word and sentence level. The system measures read- ability, sentence and word length, sentence type, word usage, and sentence openers. It also locates common examples of wordy phrasing and bad diction. The system is useful for evaluating a document's style, locating sentences that may be difficult to read or excessively wordy, and determining a particular writer's style over several documents. 1. Introduction Computers have become important in the document preparation process, with programs to check for spelling errors and to format documents. As the amount of text stored on line increases, it becomes feasible and attractive to study writing style and to attempt to help the writer in producing readable documents. The system of writing tools described here is a first step toward such help. The system includes programs and a data base to analyze writing style at the word and sentence level. We use the term ``style'' in this paper to describe the results of a writer's particular choices among individual words and sentence forms. Although many judgements of style are subjective, February 10, 2014 USD:32-2 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs particularly those of word choice, there are some objective meas- ures that experts agree lead to good style. Three programs have been written to measure some of the objectively definable charac- teristics of writing style and to identify some commonly misused or unnecessary phrases. Although a document that conforms to the stylistic rules is not guaranteed to be coherent and readable, one that violates all of the rules is likely to be difficult or tedious to read. The program STYLE calculates readability, sen- tence length variability, sentence type, word usage and sentence openers at a rate of about 400 words per second on a PDP11/70 running the UNIX- Operating System. It assumes that the sentences are well-formed, i. e. that each sentence has a verb and that the subject and verb agree in number. DICTION identifies phrases that are either bad usage or unnecessarily wordy. EXPLAIN acts as a thesaurus for the phrases found by DICTION. Sections 2, 3, and 4 describe the programs; Section 5 gives the results on a cross- section of technical documents; Section 6 discusses accuracy and problems; Section 7 gives implementation details. 2. STYLE The program STYLE reads a document and prints a summary of readability indices, sentence length and type, word usage, and sentence openers. It may also be used to locate all sentences in a document longer than a given length, of readability index higher than a given number, those containing a passive verb, or those beginning with an expletive. STYLE is based on the system for finding English word classes or parts of speech, PARTS . PARTS is a set of programs that uses a small dictionary (about 350 words) and suffix rules to partially assign word classes to English text. It then uses experimentally derived rules of word order to assign word classes to all words in the text with an accuracy of about 95%. Because PARTS uses only a small dictionary and general rules, it works on text about any subject, from phy- sics to psychology. Style measures have been built into the out- put phase of the programs that make up PARTS. Some of the meas- ures are simple counters of the word classes found by PARTS; many are more complicated. For example, the verb count is the total number of verb phrases. This includes phrases like: has been going was only going to go each of which each counts as one verb. Figure 1 shows the output of STYLE run on a paper by Kernighan and Mashey about the UNIX programming environment . As the example shows, STYLE output is in five parts. After a brief discussion of sentences, we will describe the parts in order. _________________________ - UNIX is a registered trademark of AT&T Bell Labora- tories in the USA and other countries. February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-3 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ |programming environment | |readability grades: | | (Kincaid) 12.3 (auto) 12.8 (Coleman-Liau) 11.8 (Flesch) 13.5 (46.3)| |sentence info: | | no. sent 335 no. wds 7419 | | av sent leng 22.1 av word leng 4.91 | | no. questions 0 no. imperatives 0 | | no. nonfunc wds 4362 58.8% av leng 6.38 | | short sent (<17) 35% (118) long sent (>32) 16% (55) | | longest sent 82 wds at sent 174; shortest sent 1 wds at sent 117 | |sentence types: | | simple 34% (114) complex 32% (108) | | compound 12% (41) compound-complex 21% (72) | |word usage: | | verb types as % of total verbs | | tobe 45% (373) aux 16% (133) inf 14% (114) | | passives as % of non-inf verbs 20% (144) | | types as % of total | | prep 10.8% (804) conj 3.5% (262) adv 4.8% (354) | | noun 26.7% (1983) adj 18.7% (1388) pron 5.3% (393) | | nominalizations 2 % (155) | |sentence beginnings: | | subject opener: noun (63) pron (43) pos (0) adj (58) art (62) tot 67%| | prep 12% (39) adv 9% (31) | | verb 0% (1) sub_conj 6% (20) conj 1% (5) | | expletives 4% (13) | |______________________________________________________________________________________________| Figure 1 2.1. What is a sentence? Readers of documents have little trouble deciding where the sentences end. People don't even have to stop and think about uses of the character ``.'' in constructions like 1.25, A. J. Jones, Ph.D., i. e., or etc. . When a computer reads a document, finding the end of sentences is not as easy. First we must throw away the printer's marks and formatting commands that litter the text in computer form. Then STYLE defines a sentence as a string of words ending in one of: . ! ? /. The end marker ``/.'' may be used to indicate an imperative sen- tence. Imperative sentences that are not so marked are not iden- tified as imperative. STYLE properly handles numbers with embed- ded decimal points and commas, strings of letters and numbers with embedded decimal points used for naming computer file names, and the common abbreviations listed in Appendix 1. Numbers that February 10, 2014 USD:32-4 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs end sentences, like the preceding sentence, cause a sentence break if the next word begins with a capital letter. Initials only cause a sentence break if the next word begins with a capi- tal and is found in the dictionary of function words used by PARTS. So the string J. D. JONES does not cause a break, but the string ... system H. The ... does. With these rules most sentences are broken at the proper place, although occasionally either two sentences are called one or a fragment is called a sentence. More on this later. 2.2. Readability Grades The first section of STYLE output consists of four readabil- ity indices. As Klare points out in  readability indices may be used to estimate the reading skills needed by the reader to understand a document. The readability indices reported by STYLE are based on measures of sentence and word lengths. Although the indices may not measure whether the document is coherent and well organized, experience has shown that high indices seem to be indicators of stylistic difficulty. Documents with short sen- tences and short words have low scores; those with long sentences and many polysyllabic words have high scores. The 4 formulae reported are Kincaid Formula , Automated Readability Index , Coleman-Liau Formula  and a normalized version of Flesch Reading Ease Score . The formulae differ because they were experimentally derived using different texts and subject groups. We will discuss each of the formulae briefly; for a more detailed discussion the reader should see . The Kincaid Formula, given by: was based on Navy training manuals that ranged in difficulty from 5.5 to 16.3 in reading grade level. The score reported by this formula tends to be in the mid-range of the 4 scores. Because it is based on adult training manuals rather than school book text, this formula is probably the best one to apply to technical docu- ments. The Automated Readability Index (ARI), based on text from grades 0 to 7, was derived to be easy to automate. The formula is: ARI tends to produce scores that are higher than Kincaid and Coleman-Liau but are usually slightly lower than Flesch. The Coleman-Liau Formula, based on text ranging in February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-5 difficulty from .4 to 16.3, is: Of the four formulae this one usually gives the lowest grade when applied to technical documents. The last formula, the Flesch Reading Ease Score, is based on grade school text covering grades 3 to 12. The formula, given by: is usually reported in the range 0 (very difficult) to 100 (very easy). The score reported by STYLE is scaled to be comparable to the other formulas, except that the maximum grade level reported is set to 17. The Flesch score is usually the highest of the 4 scores on technical documents. Coke  found that the Kincaid Formula is probably the best predictor for technical documents; both ARI and Flesch tend to overestimate the difficulty; Coleman-Liau tend to underestimate. On text in the range of grades 7 to 9 the four formulas tend to be about the same. On easy text the Coleman-Liau formula is prob- ably preferred since it is reasonably accurate at the lower grades and it is safer to present text that is a little too easy than a little too hard. If a document has particularly difficult technical content, especially if it includes a lot of mathematics, it is probably best to make the text very easy to read, i.e. a lower readability index by shortening the sentences and words. This will allow the reader to concentrate on the technical content and not the long sentences. The user should remember that these indices are esti- mators; they should not be taken as absolute numbers. STYLE called with ``-r number'' will print all sentences with an Automated Readability Index equal to or greater than ``number''. 2.3. Sentence length and structure The next two sections of STYLE output deal with sentence length and structure. Almost all books on writing style or effec- tive writing emphasize the importance of variety in sentence length and structure for good writing. Ewing's first rule in dis- cussing style in the book Writing for Results  is: ``Vary the sentence structure and length of your sentences.'' Leggett, Mead and Charvat break this rule into 3 in Prentice-Hall Handbook for Writers  as follows: ``34a. Avoid the overuse of short simple sentences.'' ``34b. Avoid the overuse of long compound sentences.'' ``34c. Use various sentence structures to avoid monotony and increase effectiveness.'' Although experts agree that these rules are important, not all writers follow them. Sample technical documents have been found February 10, 2014 USD:32-6 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs with almost no sentence length or type variability. One document had 90% of its sentences about the same length as the average; another was made up almost entirely of simple sentences (80%). The output sections labeled ``sentence info'' and ``sentence types'' give both length and structure measures. STYLE reports on the number and average length of both sentences and words, and number of questions and imperative sentences (those ending in ``/.''). The measures of non-function words are an attempt to look at the content words in the document. In English non- function words are nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and non-auxiliary verbs; function words are prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and auxiliary verbs. Since most function words are short, they tend to lower the average word length. The average length of non-function words may be a more useful measure for comparing word choice of different writers than the total average word length. The percentages of short and long sentences measure sen- tence length variability. Short sentences are those at least 5 words less than the average; long sentences are those at least 10 words longer than the average. Last in the sentence information section is the length and location of the longest and shortest sentences. If the flag ``-l number'' is used, STYLE will print all sentences longer than ``number''. Because of the difficulties in dealing with the many uses of commas and conjunctions in English, sentence type definitions vary slightly from those of standard textbooks, but still measure the same constructional activity. 1. A simple sentence has one verb and no dependent clause. 2. A complex sentence has one independent clause and one depen- dent clause, each with one verb. Complex sentences are found by identifying sentences that contain either a subordinate conjunction or a clause beginning with words like ``that'' or ``who''. The preceding sentence has such a clause. 3. A compound sentence has more than one verb and no dependent clause. Sentences joined by ``;'' are also counted as com- pound. 4. A compound-complex sentence has either several dependent clauses or one dependent clause and a compound verb in either the dependent or independent clause. Even using these broader definitions, simple sentences dom- inate many of the technical documents that have been tested, but the example in Figure 1 shows variety in both sentence structure and sentence length. 2.4. Word Usage The word usage measures are an attempt to identify some other constructional features of writing style. There are many February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-7 different ways in English to say the same thing. The construc- tions differ from one another in the form of the words used. The following sentences all convey approximately the same meaning but differ in word usage: The cxio program is used to perform all communication between the systems. The cxio program performs all communications between the systems. The cxio program is used to communicate between the systems. The cxio program communicates between the systems. All communication between the systems is performed by the cxio program. The distribution of the parts of speech and verb constructions helps identify overuse of particular constructions. Although the measures used by STYLE are crude, they do point out problem areas. For each category, STYLE reports a percentage and a raw count. In addition to looking at the percentage, the user may find it useful to compare the raw count with the number of sen- tences. If, for example, the number of infinitives is almost equal to the number of sentences, then many of the sentences in the document are constructed like the first and third in the preceding example. The user may want to transform some of these sentences into another form. Some of the implications of the word usage measures are discussed below. Verbs are measured in several different ways to try to determine what types of verb constructions are most frequent in the document. Technical writing tends to contain many passive verb constructions and other usage of the verb ``to be''. The category of verbs labeled ``tobe'' measures both pas- sives and sentences of the form: subject tobe predicate In counting verbs, whole verb phrases are counted as one verb. Verb phrases containing auxiliary verbs are counted in the category ``aux''. The verb phrases counted here are those whose tense is not simple present or simple past. It might eventually be useful to do more detailed measures of verb tense or mood. Infinitives are listed as ``inf''. The percentages reported for these three categories are based on the total number of verb phrases found. These categories are not mutually exclusive; they cannot be added, since, for example, ``to be going'' counts as both ``tobe'' and ``inf''. Use of these three types of verb constructions varies significantly among authors. STYLE reports passive verbs as a percentage of the finite verbs in the document. Most style books warn against the overuse of passive verbs. Coleman  has shown that sen- tences with active verbs are easier to learn than those with passive verbs. Although the inverted object-subject order of the passive voice seems to emphasize the object, Coleman's experiments showed that there is little difference in February 10, 2014 USD:32-8 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs retention by word position. He also showed that the direct object of an active verb is retained better than the subject of a passive verb. These experiments support the advice of the style books suggesting that writers should try to use active verbs wherever possible. The flag ``-p'' causes STYLE to print all sentences containing passive verbs. Pronouns add cohesiveness and connectivity to a document by providing back-reference. They are often a short-hand notation for something previously mentioned, and therefore connect the sentence containing the pronoun with the word to which the pronoun refers. Although there are other mechanisms for such connections, documents with no pronouns tend to be wordy and to have little connectivity. Adverbs can provide transition between sentences and order in time and space. In performing these functions, adverbs, like pro- nouns, provide connectivity and cohesiveness. Conjunctions provide parallelism in a document by connecting two or more equal units. These units may be whole sentences, verb phrases, nouns, adjectives, or prepositional phrases. The compound and compound-complex sentences reported under sen- tence type are parallel structures. Other uses of parallel structures are indicated by the degree that the number of conjunctions reported under word usage exceeds the compound sentence measures. Nouns and Adjectives. A ratio of nouns to adjectives near unity may indicate the over-use of modifiers. Some technical writers qualify every noun with one or more adjectives. Qualifiers in phrases like ``simple linear single-link network model'' often lend more obscurity than precision to a text. Nominalizations are verbs that are changed to nouns by adding one of the suffixes ``ment'', ``ance'', ``ence'', or ``ion''. Examples are accomplishment, admittance, adherence, and abbreviation. When a writer transforms a nominalized sentence to a non- nominalized sentence, she/he increases the effectiveness of the sentence in several ways. The noun becomes an active verb and frequently one complicated clause becomes two shorter clauses. For example, Their inclusion of this provision is admission of the importance of the system. When they included this provision, they admitted the importance of the system. Coleman found that the transformed sentences were easier to learn, even when the transformation produced sentences that February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-9 were slightly longer, provided the transformation broke one clause into two. Writers who find their document contains many nominalizations may want to transform some of the sen- tences to use active verbs. 2.5. Sentence openers Another agreed upon principle of style is variety in sen- tence openers. Because STYLE determines the type of sentence opener by looking at the part of speech of the first word in the sentence, the sentences counted under the heading ``subject opener'' may not all really begin with the subject. However, a large percentage of sentences in this category still indicates lack of variety in sentence openers. Other sentence opener meas- ures help the user determine if there are transitions between sentences and where the subordination occurs. Adverbs and con- junctions at the beginning of sentences are mechanisms for tran- sition between sentences. A pronoun at the beginning shows a link to something previously mentioned and indicates connectivity. The location of subordination can be determined by comparing the number of sentences that begin with a subordinator with the number of sentences with complex clauses. If few sentences start with subordinate conjunctions then the subordination is embedded or at the end of the complex sentences. For variety the writer may want to transform some sentences to have leading subordina- tion. The last category of openers, expletives, is commonly overworked in technical writing. Expletives are the words ``it'' and ``there'', usually with the verb ``to be'', in constructions where the subject follows the verb. For example, There are three streets used by the traffic. There are too many users on this system. This construction tends to emphasize the object rather than the subject of the sentence. The flag ``-e'' will cause STYLE to print all sentences that begin with an expletive. 3. DICTION The program DICTION prints all sentences in a document con- taining phrases that are either frequently misused or indicate wordiness. The program, an extension of Aho's FGREP  string matching program, takes as input a file of phrases or patterns to be matched and a file of text to be searched. A data base of about 450 phrases has been compiled as a default pattern file for DICTION. Before attempting to locate phrases, the program maps upper case letters to lower case and substitutes blanks for punc- tuation. Sentence boundaries were deemed less critical in DICTION than in STYLE, so abbreviations and other uses of the character ``.'' are not treated specially. DICTION brackets all pattern matches in a sentence with the characters ``['' ``]'' . Although February 10, 2014 USD:32-10 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs many of the phrases in the default data base are correct in some contexts, in others they indicate wordiness. Some examples of the phrases and suggested alternatives are: Phrase Alternative a large number of many arrive at a decision decide collect together collect for this reason so pertaining to about through the use of by or with utilize use with the exception of except Appendix 2 contains a complete list of the default file. Some of the entries are short forms of problem phrases. For example, the phrase ``the fact'' is found in all of the following and is suf- ficient to point out the wordiness to the user: Phrase Alternative accounted for by the fact that caused by an example of this is the fact that thus based on the fact that because despite the fact that although due to the fact that because in light of the fact that because in view of the fact that since notwithstanding the fact that although Entries in Appendix 2 preceded by ``~'' are not matched. See Sec- tion 7 for details on the use of ``~''. The user may supply her/his own pattern file with the flag ``-f patfile''. In this case the default file will be loaded first, followed by the user file. This mechanism allows users to suppress patterns contained in the default file or to include their own pet peeves that are not in the default file. The flag ``-n'' will exclude the default file altogether. In constructing a pattern file, blanks should be used before and after each phrase to avoid matching substrings in words. For example, to find all occurrences of the word ``the'', the pattern `` the '' should be used. The blanks cause only the word ``the'' to be matched and not the string ``the'' in words like there, other, and therefore. One side effect of surrounding the words with blanks is that when two phrases occur without intervening words, only the first will be matched. 4. EXPLAIN The last program, EXPLAIN, is an interactive thesaurus for February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-11 phrases found by DICTION. The user types one of the phrases bracketed by DICTION and EXPLAIN responds with suggested substi- tutions for the phrase that will improve the diction of the docu- ment. Table 1 Text Statistics on 20 Technical Documents variable minimum maximum mean standard deviation _________________________________________________________________________________________ Readability Kincaid 9.5 16.9 13.3 2.2 automated 9.0 17.4 13.3 2.5 Cole-Liau 10.0 16.0 12.7 1.8 Flesch 8.9 17.0 14.4 2.2 _________________________________________________________________________________________ sentence info. av sent length 15.5 30.3 21.6 4.0 av word length 4.61 5.63 5.08 .29 av nonfunction length 5.72 7.30 6.52 .45 short sent 23% 46% 33% 5.9 long sent 7% 20% 14% 2.9 _________________________________________________________________________________________ sentence types simple 31% 71% 49% 11.4 complex 19% 50% 33% 8.3 compound 2% 14% 7% 3.3 compound-complex 2% 19% 10% 4.8 _________________________________________________________________________________________ verb types tobe 26% 64% 44.7% 10.3 auxiliary 10% 40% 21% 8.7 infinitives 8% 24% 15.1% 4.8 passives 12% 50% 29% 9.3 _________________________________________________________________________________________ word usage prepositions 10.1% 15.0% 12.3% 1.6 conjunction 1.8% 4.8% 3.4% .9 adverbs 1.2% 5.0% 3.4% 1.0 nouns 23.6% 31.6% 27.8% 1.7 adjectives 15.4% 27.1% 21.1% 3.4 pronouns 1.2% 8.4% 2.5% 1.1 nominalizations 2% 5% 3.3% .8 _________________________________________________________________________________________ sentence openers prepositions 6% 19% 12% 3.4 adverbs 0% 20% 9% 4.6 subject 56% 85% 70% 8.0 verbs 0% 4% 1% 1.0 subordinating conj 1% 12% 5% 2.7 conjunctions 0% 4% 0% 1.5 expletives 0% 6% 2% 1.7 5. Results 5.1. STYLE To get baseline statistics and check the program's accuracy, February 10, 2014 USD:32-12 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs we ran STYLE on 20 technical documents. There were a total of 3287 sentences in the sample. The shortest document was 67 sen- tences long; the longest 339 sentences. The documents covered a wide range of subject matter, including theoretical computing, physics, psychology, engineering, and affirmative action. Table 1 gives the range, median, and standard deviation of the various style measures. As you will note most of the measurements have a fairly wide range of values across the sample documents. As a comparison, Table 2 gives the median results for two different technical authors, a sample of instructional material, and a sample of the Federalist Papers. The two authors show simi- lar styles, although author 2 uses somewhat shorter sentences and longer words than author 1. Author 1 uses all types of sentences, while author 2 prefers simple and complex sentences, using few compound or compound-complex sentences. The other major differ- ence in the styles of these authors is the location of subordina- tion. Author 1 seems to prefer embedded or trailing subordina- tion, while author 2 begins many sentences with the subordinate clause. The documents tested for both authors 1 and 2 were techn- ical documents, written for a technical audience. The instruc- tional documents, which are written for craftspeople, vary surprisingly little from the two technical samples. The sentences and words are a little longer, and they contain many passive and auxiliary verbs, few adverbs, and almost no pronouns. The instructional documents contain many imperative sentences, so there are many sentence with verb openers. The sample of Federal- ist Papers contrasts with the other samples in almost every way. 5.2. DICTION In the few weeks that DICTION has been available to users about 35,000 sentences have been run with about 5,000 string matches. The authors using the program seem to make the suggested changes about 50-75% of the time. To date, almost 200 of the 450 strings in the default file have been matched. Although most of these phrases are valid and correct in some contexts, the 50-75% change rate seems to show that the phrases are used much more often than concise diction warrants. 6. Accuracy 6.1. Sentence Identification The correctness of the STYLE output on the 20 document sam- ple was checked in detail. STYLE misidentified 129 sentence frag- ments as sentences and incorrectly joined two or more sentences 75 times in the 3287 sentence sample. The problems were usually because of nonstandard formatting commands, unknown abbrevia- tions, or lists of non-sentences. An impossibly long sentence found as the longest sentence in the document usually is the result of a long list of non-sentences. February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-13 Table 2 Text Statistics on Single Authors variable author 1 author 2 inst. FED ______________________________________________________________________________ readability Kincaid 11.0 10.3 10.8 16.3 automated 11.0 10.3 11.9 17.8 Coleman-Liau 9.3 10.1 10.2 12.3 Flesch 10.3 10.7 10.1 15.0 ______________________________________________________________________________ sentence info av sent length 22.64 19.61 22.78 31.85 av word length 4.47 4.66 4.65 4.95 av nonfunction length 5.64 5.92 6.04 6.87 short sent 35% 43% 35% 40% long sent 18% 15% 16% 21% ______________________________________________________________________________ sentence types simple 36% 43% 40% 31% complex 34% 41% 37% 34% compound 13% 7% 4% 10% compound-complex 16% 8% 14% 25% ______________________________________________________________________________ verb type tobe 42% 43% 45% 37% auxiliary 17% 19% 32% 32% infinitives 17% 15% 12% 21% passives 20% 19% 36% 20% ______________________________________________________________________________ word usage prepositions 10.0% 10.8% 12.3% 15.9% conjunctions 3.2% 2.4% 3.9% 3.4% adverbs 5.05% 4.6% 3.5% 3.7% nouns 27.7% 26.5% 29.1% 24.9% adjectives 17.0% 19.0% 15.4% 12.4% pronouns 5.3% 4.3% 2.1% 6.5% nominalizations 1% 2% 2% 3% ______________________________________________________________________________ sentence openers prepositions 11% 14% 6% 5% adverbs 9% 9% 6% 4% subject 65% 59% 54% 66% verb 3% 2% 14% 2% subordinating conj 8% 14% 11% 3% conjunction 1% 0% 0% 3% expletives 3% 3% 0% 3% 6.2. Sentence Types Style correctly identified sentence type on 86.5% of the sentences in the sample. The type distribution of the sentences was 52.5% simple, 29.9% complex, 8.5% compound and 9% compound- complex. The program reported 49.5% simple, 31.9% complex, 8% compound and 10.4% compound-complex. Looking at the errors on the individual documents, the number of simple sentences was under- reported by about 4% and the complex and compound-complex were over-reported by 3% and 2%, respectively. The following matrix February 10, 2014 USD:32-14 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs shows the programs output vs. the actual sentence type. Program Results simple complex compound comp-complex Actual simple 1566 132 49 17 Sentence complex 47 892 6 65 Type compound 40 6 207 23 comp-complex 0 52 5 249 The system's inability to find imperative sentences seems to have little effect on most of the style statistics. A document with half of its sentences imperative was run, with and without the imperative end marker. The results were identical except for the expected errors of not finding verbs as sentence openers, not counting the imperative sentences, and a slight difference (1%) in the number of nouns and adjectives reported. 6.3. Word Usage The accuracy of identifying word types reflects that of PARTS, which is about 95% correct. The largest source of confu- sion is between nouns and adjectives. The verb counts were checked on about 20 sentences from each document and found to be about 98% correct. 7. Technical Details 7.1. Finding Sentences The formatting commands embedded in the text increase the difficulty of finding sentences. Not all text in a document is in sentence form; there are headings, tables, equations and lists, for example. Headings like ``Finding Sentences'' above should be discarded, not attached to the next sentence. However, since many of the documents are formatted to be phototypeset, and contain font changes, which usually operate on the most important words in the document, discarding all formatting commands is not correct. To improve the programs' ability to find sentence boun- daries, the deformatting program, DEROFF , has been given some knowledge of the formatting packages used on the UNIX operating system. DEROFF will now do the following: 1. Suppress all formatting macros that are used for titles, headings, author's name, etc. 2. Suppress the arguments to the macros for titles, headings, author's name, etc. 3. Suppress displays, tables, footnotes and text that is cen- tered or in no-fill mode. February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-15 4. Substitute a place holder for equations and check for hidden end markers. The place holder is necessary because many typ- ists and authors use the equation setter to change fonts on important words. For this reason, header files containing the definition of the EQN delimiters must also be included as input to STYLE. End markers are often hidden when an equation ends a sentence and the period is typed inside the EQN delimiters. 5. Add a "." after lists. If the flag -ml is also used, all lists are suppressed. This is a separate flag because of the variety of ways the list macros are used. Often, lists are sentences that should be included in the analysis. The user must determine how lists are used in the document to be analyzed. Both STYLE and DICTION call DEROFF before they look at the text. The user should supply the -ml flag if the document con- tains many lists of non-sentences that should be skipped. 7.2. Details of DICTION The program DICTION is based on the string matching program FGREP. FGREP takes as input a file of patterns to be matched and a file to be searched and outputs each line that contains any of the patterns with no indication of which pattern was matched. The following changes have been added to FGREP: 1. The basic unit that DICTION operates on is a sentence rather than a line. Each sentence that contains one of the patterns is output. 2. Upper case letters are mapped to lower case. 3. Punctuation is replaced by blanks. 4 All pattern matches in the sentence are found and surrounded with ``['' ``]'' . 5. A method for suppressing a string match has been added. Any pattern that begins with ``~'' will not be matched. Because the matching algorithm finds the longest substring, the suppression of a match allows words in some correct contexts not to be matched while allowing the word in another context to be found. For example, the word ``which'' is often incorrectly used instead of ``that'' in restrictive clauses. However, ``which'' is usually correct when preceded by a preposition or ``,''. The default pattern file suppresses the match of the common prepositions or a double blank fol- lowed by ``which'' and therefore matches only the suspect uses. The double blank accounts for the replaced comma. February 10, 2014 USD:32-16 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs 8. Conclusions A system of writing tools that measure some of the objective characteristics of writing style has been developed. The tools are sufficiently general that they may be applied to documents on any subject with equal accuracy. Although the measurements are only of the surface structure of the text, they do point out problem areas. In addition to helping writers produce better documents, these programs may be useful for studying the writing process and finding other formulae for measuring readability. February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-17 References 1. L. L. Cherry, ``PARTS - A System for Assigning Word Classes to English Text,'' submitted Communications of the ACM. 2. B. W. Kernighan and J. R. Mashey, ``The UNIX Programming Environment,'' Software - Practice & Experience , 9, 1-15 (1979). 3. G. R. Klare, ``Assessing Readability,'' Reading Research Quarterly, 1974-1975, 10 , 62-102. 4. E. A. Smith and P. Kincaid, ``Derivation and validation of the automated readability index for use with technical materials,'' Human Factors, 1970, 12, 457-464. 5. J. P. Kincaid, R. P. Fishburne, R. L. Rogers, and B. S. Chissom, ``Derivation of new readability formulas (Automated Readability Index, Fog count, and Flesch Reading Ease For- mula) for Navy enlisted personnel,'' Navy Training Command Research Branch Report 8-75, Feb., 1975. 6. M. Coleman and T. L. Liau, ``A Computer Readability Formula Designed for Machine Scoring,'' Journal of Applied Psychol- ogy, 1975, 60, 283-284. 7. R. Flesch, ``A New Readability Yardstick,'' Journal of Applied Psychology, 1948, 32, 221-233. 8. E. U. Coke, private communication. 9. D. W. Ewing, Writing for Results, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, N. Y. (1974). 10. G. Leggett, C. D. Mead and W. Charvat, Prentice-Hall Hand- book for Writers, Seventh Edition, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N. J. (1978). 11. E. B. Coleman, ``Learning of Prose Written in Four Grammati- cal Transformations,'' Journal of Applied Psychology, 1965, vol. 49, no. 5, pp. 332-341. 12 A. V. Aho and M. J. Corasick, ``Efficient String Matching: an aid to Bibliographic Search,'' Communications of the ACM, 18, (6), 333-340, June 1975. 13. Bell Laboratories, ``UNIX TIME-SHARING SYSTEM: UNIX PROGRAMMER'S MANUAL,'' Seventh Edition, Vol. 1 (January 1979). February 10, 2014 USD:32-18 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs Appendix 1 STYLE Abbreviations a. d. A. M. a. m. b. c. Ch. ch. ckts. dB. Dept. dept. Depts. depts. Dr. Drs. e. g. Eq. eq. et al. etc. Fig. fig. Figs. figs. ft. i. e. in. Inc. Jr. jr. mi. Mr. Mrs. Ms. No. no. Nos. nos. P. M. p. m. Ph. D. Ph. d. Ref. ref. Refs. refs. St. vs. yr. February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-19 Appendix 2 Default DICTION Patterns a great deal of a large number of a lot of a majority of a need for a number of a particular preference for a preference for a small number of a tendency to abovementioned absolutely complete absolutely essential accomplished accordingly activate actual added increments adequate enough advent afford an opportunity aggregate all of all throughout along the line an indication of analyzation and etc and or another additional any and all arrive at a as a matter of fact as a method of as good or better than as of now as per as regards as related to as to assistance assistance to assistance to assuming that at a later date at about at above at all times at an early date at below February 10, 2014 USD:32-20 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs at the present center portion at the time whecheck into at this point icheckeon at this time check up on at which time circle around at your earliesclosevproximity authorization collaborate together awful collect together basic fundamentcombine together basically come to an end be cognizant ofcommence being as common accord being that compensation brief in duraticompletely eliminated bring to a conccomprise but that concerning but what conduct an investigation of by means of conjecture by the use of connect up carry out experconsensus of opinion center about consequent result center around consolidate together construct contemplate continue on continue to remain could of count up couple together debate about decide on deleterious effect demean demonstrate depreciate in value deserving of desirable benefits desirous of different than discontinue disutility divide up doubt but due to duly noted during the time that each and every early beginnings effectuate emotional feelings empty out enclosed herein enclosed herewith end result February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-21 end up fearful that endeavor few in number enter in file away enter into final completion enthused final ending entirely complefinal outcome equally good asfinal result essentially finalize eventuate find it interesting to know every now and tfirst and foremost exactly identicfirst beginnings experiencing difirstlinitiated fabricate firstly face up to follow after facilitate following after facts and figurfor the purpose of fast in action for the reason that fearful of for the simple reason that for this reason for your information from the point of view of full and complete generally agreed good and got to gratuitous greatly minimize head up help but helps in the production of hopeful if and when if at all possible impact implement important essentials importantly in a large measure in a position to in accordance in advance of in agreement with in all cases in back of in behalf of in behind in between in case in close proximity in conflict with in conjunction with in connection with in fact in large measure February 10, 2014 USD:32-22 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs in many cases in the form of in most cases in the instance of in my opinion Iinhthe interim in order to in the last analysis in rare cases in the matter of in reference toin the near future in regard to in the neighborhood of in regards to in the not too distant future in relation witin the proximity of in short supplyin the range of in size in the same way as described in terms of in the shape of in the amount oin the vicinity of in the case of in this case in the course oin view of the in the event in violation of in the field ofinasmuch as indicate indicative of initialize initiate injurious to inquire inside of institute a intents and purposes intermingle irregardless is defined as is used to control is when is where it is incumbent it stands to reason it was noted that if joint cooperation joint partnership just exactly kind of know about last but not least later on leaving out of consideration liable link up literally little doubt that lose out on lots of main essentials make a make adjustments to make an make application to February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-23 make contact with make mention of make out a list of make the acquaintance of make the adjustment manner maximum possible meaningful meet up with melt down melt up methodology might of minimize as far as possible minor importance miss out on modification February 10, 2014 USD:32-24 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs more preferable most unique must of mutual cooperation necessary requisite necessitate need for nice not be un not in a position to not of a high order of accuracy not un notwithstanding of considerable magnitude of that of the opinion that off of on a few occasions on account of on behalf of on the grounds that on the occasion on the part of one of the open up operates to correct outside of over with overall past history perceptive of perform a measurement perform the measurement permits the reduction of personalize pertaining to physical size plan ahead plan for the future plan in advance plan on present a conclusion present a report presently prior to prioritize proceed to procure productive of prolong the duration protrude out from provided that pursuant to put to use in February 10, 2014 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs USD:32-25 range all the wseemsoapparent reason is becausend a communication reason why short space of time recur again should of reduce down single unit refer back situation reference to thso as to reflective of sort of regarding spell out regretful still continue reinitiate still remain relative to subsequent repeat again substantially in agreement representative succeed in resultant effecsuggestive of resume again superior than retreat back surrounding circumstances return again take appropriate return back take cognizance of revert back take into consideration seal off termed as terminate termination the author the authors the case that the fact the foregoing the foreseeable future the fullest possible extent the majority of the nature the necessity of the only difference being that the order of the point that the truth is there are not many through the medium of through the use of throughout the entire time interval to summarize the above total effect of all this totality transpire true facts try and ultimate end under a separate cover under date of under separate cover under the necessity to underlying purpose February 10, 2014 USD:32-26 Writing Tools - the STYLE and DICTION Programs undertake a stuworth while uniformly consiwould of unique ing behavior until such timwise up to this time̅ which upshot ~ about which utilize ~ after which very ~ at which very complete ~ between which very unique ~ by which vital ~ for which which ~ from which with a view to~ in which with reference~tinto which with regard to~ of which with the except̅ion which with the object̅ on which with the result̅ over which with this in mi̅nthroughswhichr that within the real̅mtofwhichibility without further̅ under which ~ upon which ~ with which ~ without which ~clockwise ~likewise ~otherwise February 10, 2014
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