Fake Technical Writing: A Modest Proposal for the Creators of the Ulysses App
N.B.: This is a software add-on that I could only *wish* existed. Using my best fake tech writing skillz, I have created a command reference entry for a software function that would make us all better writers — especially literary theorists.
The command that I have invented, is for the program Ulysses, a Mac-only writing app. Generally used by creative writers and journalists, the command I designed is a modified Search function (as my tech writer husband pointed out). In this command, Search is enhanced: it can recognize elements of language and composition that many consider undesirable in published work, such as adverbs and cliches. I know there is a software program — Hemingway — that will do some of this already, in terms of grammar and syntactical complexity, but I am imagining software that would serve as a first-stop editor that would use basic AI to point out these “errors” of style. Beware: there is some tongue-in-cheek writing ahead.
Command Reference Entry for Editor
🗓 08/24/2018 🕓 4 minutes to read
Contributors: Anna Hiller
In this article
Applies To: Ulysses 12.0 or later
Editor is an enhanced search command for Markdown XL files written in the Ulysses app for MacOS or iOS. Running the
editor command with the function
<nonos> analyzes Ulysses files for problematic text. Create a specific search type using one or more parameters to define the
<nonos> function. Parameters exist for macro-categories (known as
elements) that name the scope of the search. For example, there are
elements for style, grammar, syntax, and usage. Additionsl parameters, known as
attributes, are subordinate to
Attributes (alone or in a string) specify the search type performed by the
editor <nonos> | /[element] / [attribute]; [attribute (optional)]
<nonos> A function that directs the
editor command to search for problematic text in a Ulysses Markdown XL file.
styleSearches selected file for stylistic problems, as defined by specific attributes.
grammarSearches selected file for grammatical errors; does not require definition by an attribute.
syntaxSearches selected file for syntactical problems, as defined by specific attributes.
usageSearches selected file for lexical problems, as defined by specific attributes.
registerSearches for shifts in communicative register, as defined by specific attributes.
Attributes Style Attributes
clicheHighlights known clichés, popular sayings, and aphoristic language.
passivevoiceHighlights all instances of the passive voice.
weakverbHighlights unspecific verbs such as
adverbabuseHighlights unnecessary adverbs that could be replaced by a strong verb.
repetitionHighlights all words used more than three times within 200 words.
jargonHighlights complex but essentially meaningless language.
agreementHighlights subject-verb agreement inconsistencies.
prependHighlights sentences ending in a preposition.
tenseHighlights errors in the sequence of verb tenses.
whichthatHighlights errors in relative pronouns.
runonHighlights run-on sentences.
modifierHighlights misplaced and dangling modifiers.
punctabuseHighlights misused or excessive punctuation.
complexHighlights whole sentences whose complexity exceeds a threshold of a 10th grade reading level.
derridaHighlights whole sentences whose syntax is more complex than 20th-century post-structuralist theory.
huhHighlights words that do not make sense within the context of the sentence.
itsitsHighlights incorrect usage of apostrophes.
theretheirHighlights incorrect usage of homonyms.
whichthatHighlights incorrect usage of relative pronouns.
notformalHighlights colloquial language in a predominantly formal text.
notinformalHighlights formal language in a predominantly informal text.
editoronly works with Markdown XL files. It does not work with simple Markdown documents.
grammarelement can be used with or without a defining attribute. Without a defining attribute, the
grammarelement performs a global grammar check on all attributes. Including a defining attribute narrows the search to that attribute alone.
- You cannot simultaneously search on multiple elements within the
editorcommand syntax. You can only use Simple Strings. However, you can use a Complex String command—that is, issue a sequence of commands that will find instances of other attributes within the results of the original search. The sequence uses the
`SUB`conjunction to execute this command.
- You can search multiple
attributesat the same time, but they must be sub-parameters within the same
- After running editor, Ulysses can export a summary of the
<nonos>found in the file. Select
OKwhen the dialog appears with the text
- After selecting
OK, select the export format in the next window. There are several options for exporting file. File types available for export are .rtf, .docx, .md, .pdf, and .html.
- To find the cliched language in a document, type:
- editor <nonos> | [style] | [cliche]
- To find combinations of weak verbs and adverbs that should be replaced by a strong verb, type:
- editor <nonos> | [style] | [weakverb]; [adverbabuse]
- To find language that is both jargon and overly complex, type:
- editor <nonos> | [style] | [jargon] SUB [syntax\derrida]
- To find run-on sentences that are also too formal (within the context of the document), type:
- editor <nonos> | [register] | [formal] SUB [syntax\runon]
- editor <nonos> |[syntax] | [runon] SUB [register\formal]