"Tool to count characters, words and phrases"
myWordCount is a multi-featured tool for analyzing documents and providing insightful data about its character, word, sentence, and phrase usage, reading level, and other properties. Produced by myWriterTools, MWC helps writers examine a text to understand and improve it. MWC is available for most modern versions of both Windows and Mac, with a partially enabled demonstration version available for free, and a full version costing $14.95. This review is concerned primarily with the demonstration version, but makes comparison between the abilities of each.
Installation is quick and simple; a wizard is employed with a standard Software License Agreement to accept, a choice of installation directory, as well as an option to rename the program folder as it is seen in the start menu, and an option for icon placement on the desktop. This process is ad-free and does not attempt installation of any accompanying software or toolbars.
Upon opening myWordCount, a splash screen is shown with the program title and information. If using the demonstration version, a message giving you the opportunity to register is also displayed. Afterwards, the main program opens. Again, if using the demonstration version, a second window will be superimposed, giving you options to buy or register for the program, or to continue using the demonstration mode.
The organization of the interface is fairly straight forward and quite concise. There is a main menu at the top of the window performing standard operations such as opening a file, copying text, and getting help. Below this sit seven tabs each of which contains tools for a specific kind of analysis. The layout of each tab, too, is cleanly laid out, with all options and settings marked with descriptive labels. Brief instructions for operation sit directly in the main window from the start, and provide a clear guide to the process. More detailed instructions can be found in the extensive help section provided via the Help menu.
Most of the buttons which have functions that may not be obvious at first will display an informational tooltip when hovered over, clarifying their use.
myWordCount provides seven main methods of analysis.
The first and most basic is the Word Count. Once you have opened a file, you can click “Count Words” from within the Words tab to generate a list of all words found within the document. myWordCount also analyzes various properties of the words used, such as each word’s length, its proximity to other words, and total usage within the document. Once this list is generated, you can also easily have a graph generated for a specific word, showing its usage in detail. The word count provides a number of filters, such as capitalization, whether to include digits as words, and minimum length of words to include in the count. Other customization for the search includes selection of options to include or exclude words using hyphens or slashes as separators, and a list of words to ignore in the count.
The next analysis is a phrase count, similar to the word count in functionality, but searching instead for commonly used combinations of words, i.e. “can be”, “such that”, etc, or even longer phrases if they are present. Likewise akin to the word count are the filters and the ability to graph.
The third main feature is the SentenceStart search. This tool finds phrases that occur more than once as the beginning of a sentence. You can select whether one, two, or three words should be factored as a phrase in this context. This tool is similar in functionality to the word and phrase count, and is simple to use.
The next tool is SentenceLength, which examines the lengths of the sentences in the document, and their correlation to each other. This is a useful feature, providing a variety of information about the sentences used, such as their average length, total number of sentences, and average difference in length from once sentence to another. A chart containing sentence lengths is also displayed.
Another available analysis, along a different line of inspection, is the GradeLevel tool. GradeLevel investigates the readability of each sentence and of the document as a whole, using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Reading Ease measures, standard mathematically determined scales of the reading level of a text.
The sixth analysis tool checks for words ending in –ly, often adverbs. This search finds their length and usage so that you can avoid using too large a number of such words. This feature includes a list of words to be ignored that is already populated fairly extensively, mainly by words that are not adverbs and might be confused as such by the system (e.g. “belly”, “ally”).
The final tool is a character count, which displays total number of characters used in four different results differentiated by punctuation, spaces, and digits, and solely spaces. A chart of character frequency is also displayed.
The list results of each of these features can be sorted by the categories that serve as the column headers, such as alphabetically, by word length, usage, etc.
Results can be saved in a Comma Separated Value (CSV) file or as a Rich Text File (RTF). In the save window, the user must select which results should be included.
One nifty little additional feature that myWordCount offers is the ability to work with open Microsoft Word documents, allowing you to make changes concurrently with your analysis. If you have this open, myWordCount will even highlight within the open document the words that have been searched.
Plenty of preferences for customization are available, most mainly concerned with how to treat certain kinds of words within the analyses. There is also a maintenance section of the preferences, allowing you to clear the lists of words to ignore, erase all entries that have been generated by the tools, compact the database that stores the entries from your documents for analysis, or remove highlighting that was placed into an open document during the analyzing process.
myWordCount can handle a number of different kinds of files. As mentioned, Microsoft Word files can be used and even analyzed while open. Plain text, RTF files, and even Scrivener files (a kind of document generated by Scrivener, a writing tool) are also accepted, and text data can also be retrieved from a website address provided or from the clipboard. In the case that a non-Word file is opened, an internal viewer can be used to examine the file manually while using myWordCount.
The analyses that myWordCount provides are quick, thorough, and accurate. A fair number of options are offered, and the results are clear and readable.
The help file is extensive and useful, containing a large amount of information on how to use each feature of the program.
When using the free demonstration version, a number of the better functions are disabled. Additionally, the lists generated by myWordCount’s analyses will show only their first five items. The character count cannot be used at all, and when using any of the tools, a small box is displayed at the top of the window reminding the user that the program is not registered and that some functionality is disabled.
Since the main usefulness of this program lies in its ability to display lists and overall trends throughout the document, being limited to five characters, words, or phrases in the demonstration version is somewhat crippling (the full version is $14.95). However, when using the full version there are few detracting elements of which to speak.
There are any number of online tools which provide, to a very limited extent, tools similar to those found in myWordCount. Some of these, such as the word counter found at http://www.countofwords.com/, are very simple, showing only the number of words in the text provided, with no filtering options and no support for multiple documents. Others, like Word Counter from http://www.wordcounter.net/, go somewhat further, with character, word, and sentence counts, average sentence length, lists of commonly used words, and other features being offered.
In terms of more fully featured and professional software, AnyCount by Advanced International Translations is one useful alternative. Possessing all the standard features of word count software, it also allows the user to select sections of the document, such as header, footer, etcetera, to include or exclude from the count. AnyCount supports many document formats, and offers three versions at different price points to satisfy a range of users.
Another alternative is the advanced Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count program developed by James W. Pennebaker, Roger J. Booth, and Martha E. Francis. It contains a large number of features to analyze many aspects of language usage across any number of documents. LIWC provides a limited feature set online for free, a light version for around thirty dollars, and a full version for approximately ninety dollars.
myWordCount is a comfortable middle ground in terms of price and features. At a reasonable price, it provides a fair range of tools for document analysis, without burdening the user with a huge range of options or features which they might never use. While MWC might not meet the needs of a user desiring an in-depth analysis, the appreciable power of the tools it does provide goes a fair length for the asked price – it can be an invaluable program for assisting quality writing. Despite a few setbacks on power and on limits in the free version, MWC will be a useful companion for any writer.
For straightforward interface and highly useful tools, I would give myWordCount by myWriterTools 4 out of 5 stars.
Requirements: Word 2000 or later for Word option
What's new in this version: Reads Scrivener files Much faster Analyzes Flesch-Kincaid score for each sentence Groups words using stemming algorithms Mac support Finds adverbs ending in ly Counts characters to produce character frequency table More filtering options for all searches
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