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Review of WordTune: Granular style checkers still beat Bard and ChatGPT

by Tom Johnson on May 19, 2023 •
categories: technical-writing AI

While AI tools are helpful if you target an isolated sentence or paragraph, I prefer more granular line-by-line style checking tools instead because I want to know what content has changed.

Despite all the focus on AI tools automatically writing content for you, their outputs seem relevant only in low-level, easy writing scenarios. Try writing an intelligent, original essay on a topic and you’ll find AI tools much less irrelevant.

I do, however, occasionally paste problematic sentences into ChatGPT or Bard and ask them to make the language more grammatical and readable. Sometimes they do an amazing job, but only when I’ve scoped the language problem in isolation, removed from the rest of the essay. Paste in the whole essay and the experience becomes problematic. It’s problematic because to see what’s changed, you have to read the output line by line, comparing each line with the original.

This makes the editing process tedious and time-consuming with AI tools. Few writers would accept ChatGPT or Bard’s outputs in whole without wanting to know each detail the tool changed from the original. (Despite my explicit requests, the AI tools never follow my instruction to put asterisks around misspellings or awkward sentences.)

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One granular style-checker I’ve been experimenting with is WordTune. WordTune does have its flaws, but WordTune provides a more granular editing experience. WordTune underlines problematic parts of my sentences and then suggests fixes or rewrites (similar to Grammarly). Note: This isn’t sponsored content here.

Mostly, WordTune helps me trim the fat off my sentences. In running my content through WordTune, I’m convinced my biggest writing flaw is wordiness.

WordTune also offers some features to rewrite problematic sentences, which I find helpful as well. While writing, I’ll often look at an awkward sentence and think, this needs to be fixed. WordTune’s rewrite of the sentence is usually on target. Overall, I prefer the WordTune model of going line by line through my content—seeing problematic parts of sentences underlined in red and purple, then accepting or rejecting each change myself. I don’t want an AI to fix all the sentences at once without showing me the diff of each change.

WordTune does offer some AI features, such as expanding existing text with more content. The expansion feature is mostly garbage, though. In many cases, it just adds verbosity and hot air.

Overall, WordTune has helped me see the wordiness flaw in my writing style. I see weasel words, unnecessary constructions, and other filler text (e.g., words like “mostly,” “in some ways,” “a number of,” “particularly,” “more or less,” “starting to,” “a lot of,” and so on) that waters down my meaning. I’m starting to trim this fat before pasting content into the WordTune editor.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation if you're looking for more info about that. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.

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