Seattle Uses Software to Improve Writing

Seattle officials have adopted a new technology for several departments that suggests ways to make government documents easier to read.

by / January 23, 2013

Editors, beware. A startup company in Seattle has developed software that could render you obsolete. According to a report in GeekWire, WordRake scans documents and makes suggestions for edits that replace flowery verbiage and unnecessary prose with more concise language.

Seattle officials have announced that their transportation and purchasing departments, along with the office of Mayor Mike McGinn, will use WordRake to make government documents sound more like English, and less like bureaucrat-speak. The city plans to use the software to improve its contracts, letters, ordinance language and policy documents.

Billed as "the first editing software for lawyers," some predict that the tool, that can review a 10-page document in 30 seconds and works seamlessly with Microsoft Word, will become as widely used as spellcheck. Lawyers testing the software appreciate the help -- 84 percent of testers called it a time-saver that improves their writing.

“As soon as I tried it myself, I wanted my staff to have this capability on their desktops," said Nancy Locke, Seattle's purchasing director, in a press release. "The program has helped them communicate better to our public, and any tool that can do that is very valuable.”

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