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March 7, 2013

8

Better Legal Writing with WordRake

by WSBA
WordRake8365
Learn more about WordRake, a new WSBA member benefit. Enter to win a subscription!

WordRakeLast night I gave away an old 27” tube-style TV. The unwanted, unneeded behemoth had been in my garage for over a month, doing nothing but collecting dust and blocking access to my stash of toilet paper. It needed to go.

With a quick Craigslist post, I edited the TV from my life. Editing my writing is a lot harder. Concise and well-written copy — whether it be a blog post or a brief — is enjoyable, easy to read, and more persuasive. For lawyers, better legal writing can mean better outcomes and greater client and colleague satisfaction. But editing your own writing can be difficult!

WordRake

Here’s where WordRake steps in. WordRake is an add-in for Microsoft Word that scans your document for unnecessary words and phrases. It marks those words for deletion, similar to Track Changes. You can see the changes and accept or ignore them.

Ever the skeptic, when I first heard about WordRake, I thought it was too good to be true. The first time I tried WordRake, I thought, “Huh, that’s actually pretty good.” Now, after a few months of using it, I use it on everything I write. It works wonderfully. It quickly scans my document and accurately marks superfluous words and phrases, tightening up my writing. It rarely suggests a deletion that would alter context or meaning. When it comes to memos, briefs, contracts, and other legal writing, I see WordRake as an immensely powerful tool.  I wish I had purchased WordRake during law school! (See how it works).

Is WordRake a panacea for all your writing woes? Not quite. You can’t rely on WordRake to delete sentences or paragraphs that don’t move your argument or story forward (like, you know, the first paragraph of this post). WordRake focuses on individual words and phrases, so your editing process should still include asking whether each sentence earns its keep.

Another thing to remember is that WordRake is geared toward legal writing. I think it’s great for other uses like web copy and blog writing as well. However, sometimes I like my writing to reflect my personality a bit. It turns out my personality means extra words, which WordRake suggests I delete. This is where the control to accept or delete WordRake’s edits really helps me.

Bottom line, I’m immensely impressed with WordRake and will continue to use it. WSBA members receive a discount rate when purchasing WordRake. For just under $95 a year (member price), WordRake is a valuable investment in your writing at a bargain price.

Want to try WordRake? You can purchase WordRake at the special member price: just enter coupon code “WSBA” during checkout. You can also try it for free for three days. Be sure to check out our other WSBA member benefits, too.

WordRake Giveaway!

***This giveaway has closed***

What’s your favorite editing trick? Tell us in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a one-year subscription to WordRake. Entries will close at midnight on Friday, March 15. The winner will be randomly selected. To win, a valid email address is required when commenting.

8 Comments
  1. Shannon Whitemore
    Mar 7 2013

    When editing, I first review for and revise passive voice (using the Find tool in Word for is, was, be, etc.) and then for nominalizations. Then I look for overly-long sentences and revise to reduce modifying clauses.

  2. EmilyM
    Mar 8 2013

    I remove the word clearly. If it is, then you really don’t need to use the word.

  3. Mar 8 2013

    I tend to overuse a few specific words, such as “that” or “just.” I always search through my writing to see if they’re really needed.

  4. Mar 8 2013

    I find that doing a really detailed outline before I write really helps to decrease the chances of my writing being overly redundant.

  5. Mar 8 2013

    I have style check turned on in Word. By default, Word only puts the famous red squiggles under misspelled words. By going into the options, you can turn on the style check as well, which will put green squiggles under passive voice, fragmented sentences, run on sentences, etc.

    Additionally, to cut down on passive voice, add “by zombies” to the end of every sentence. If the sentence makes sense, it’s written in passive voice.

  6. Mar 12 2013

    I read my brief backwords. Typos stand out more that way.

  7. Jessica Aurelia Brown
    Mar 12 2013

    Reading it aloud to someone helps with clarity and flow.

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  1. Friday 5: Tips for Writing a Great Blog Post | NWSidebar

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