By Roberta Johnson, Director, Office of Student Financial Aid, Iowa State University
As the Director of the Office of Financial Aid at Iowa State University, I write quite a bit, creating anything from short memos to annual reports. I had seen the WordRake software website, and even though I thought it was just for lawyers, I was interested in it enough to try it.
Since then, I’ve been using WordRake to help edit everything I write, and I purchased several licenses for my staff, who are using it as well.
WordRake is definitely not just for lawyers, and I’ve been amazed at how quickly the software can scan or “rake” through a document and generate suggested edits. It’s a comfort knowing I can just write, without agonizing over it like I usually do, and then “rake” my text with WordRake. WordRake’s suggestions are so quick and succinct, and they add punch to my writing.
One thing I like most is how WordRake catches my tendency to waver between active and passive voice. By changing everything to active voice, the software helps me project a different image in my memos.
I also like how WordRake suggests edits but lets you decide which to accept. It eliminates extraneous words like “nonetheless” and “personally.” Because I’m not a lawyer, sometimes I want to take a softer approach and not always cut to the chase. But often, those softening words are not adding anything to the message, and I like how WordRake points them out and lets me decide whether to leave them in.
WordRake is also training me to write better. After just one month, it finds fewer edits to propose than when I started using it. An unexpected benefit is how much time it saves me. I used to always edit while I was writing. This process bogged me down and then I would be under pressure to finish the document. With WordRake, I simply write, get my thoughts down on paper, and then go back and do the rake. WordRake has truly removed roadblocks from my writing process.
I see so many applications for WordRake in academia. I’m on the administrative side, but people posting to message boards and listservs could also benefit from WordRake. I even see benefit for students who may need to write term papers for class.
So many people pursuing Master’s degrees or Ph.D.s have told me they have to hire an editor to review their thesis and dissertation. WordRake is perfect for them, not eliminating the need to hire an editor, but cleaning up some clutter before they send it to someone for review. WordRake is also invaluable for faculty members who write grant proposals to get research funding.