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Lawyers are judged by the written words we put on websites and promotional materials and in our primary work products, be they briefs, contracts, leases, warrants or wills. In an analog world, work products were buried in client or court files where few, outside of the parties to an action or transaction, would see them. In the digital world, work products may find their way to the web just like our other materials, there for all to see (perhaps forever).
The upshot: When you publish any material, assume the world will see it. Strive to be clear and concise. Software like WordRake can help you.
Seattle-based WordRake was founded in 2012 by author, lawyer and writing expert Gary Kinder. The software makes prose crisp, clear and concise by eliminating useless words in sentences. The company’s namesake software is now in version 3.
WordRake 3 installs as an add-in to Microsoft Outlook 2010 and above and to Word 2007 and above in separate, annual licenses starting at $129 for each application, or $199 for the bundle (Word + Outlook). If you have a current license of WordRake version 2, the upgrade to 3 is free. Note: There are no WordRake deployments for Word and Outlook online in Office 365.
Once installed, WordRake appears in its own tab on the Microsoft Ribbon in Word and Outlook. It operates the same in both applications, with WordRake’s suggested edits shown like they are displayed in Word’s Track Changes function. To edit with WordRake, click the WordRake tab; then the Rake action.
The software will analyze the entire text of a document or a selected (highlighted) section, strike out useless words, and insert clearer text. Then WordRake waits for you to accept or decline the changes in serial or bulk actions from the tabbed menu interface.
Does it work? Yes. Using excerpts from my 451 Research reports, WordRake had the following suggestions:
From my company elevator speech, WordRake suggested the following:
If your style is to use “more than” for numerical or countable quantities rather than “over,” there is no telling WordRake that information. It would be nice if the company surfaced a tool like Word’s Autocorrect function to turn rules off or modify them, allowing users to correspond to personal, court or corporate style guides. Perhaps apply machine learning to know that I denied the correction “over” for “more than” ad nauseum and edit the rule so?
If you need a grammar refresher course, return to “Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition,” or turn on Microsoft’s grammar tools: In Word Options, select Proofing and check “Mark grammar as you type” or “Check grammar with spelling.” Also, you can try Grammarly for Microsoft Office; or ditch Word for Corel Corp.’s WordPerfect, which uses Grammatik.
If you write in Word or Outlook, WordRake will bring clarity and crispness to your prose. The company offers a seven-day free trial, so test my assessment of it.
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