Improve your Writing with Expresso


I write. A lot. But I don’t get edited very often, and I am terrible at revising my own work. I came across this little tool, developed by Mikhail Panko, a PhD student in computational neuroscience, called Expresso. You paste your text into a text box and it gives you a number of metrics directly in the text. It aims to help you find “weak spots” in your text, as well as encouraging you to paste the text of writers you admire to compare styles.

I decided to take it for a spin with my own writing. I chose a (relatively) recent blog post I wrote on learning to code on my blog. This is what I got:

Screen Shot of Expresso

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 10.37.23 AM

When you click on any of the metrics, it highlights in the text the words or phrases that you should pay attention to, and then hovering over the highlighted words or phrases gives you suggested replacement. I’ve run it a number of times on a variety of blog posts (not my academic writing, not that I’ve done much of that lately), and it clearly states that I have a certain style when it comes to my metrics.

I can see using this in teaching, as well as being able to play around with different writers’ styles. It’s fun, and I like how you can edit your text right in the platform to see how your metrics change. It doesn’t save any edits, however, so you have to remember to cut and paste your document back into whatever word processor you’re using.

How do you see using Expresso? Please share in the comments.

[CC-licensed Flickr photo by cahadikin]

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