"I am a galley slave to pen and ink."
The Smart-Edit feature of PageFour, introduced in version 1.50, is the first attempt at incorporating editing functionality into the product. It does not correct or improve your writing, but it does act as a starting point when you begin to edit your work. Smart-Edit enables you to quickly identify over used words and phrases, and provides an instant mechanism for jumping to the portions of your text that may need to be modified.
The decision as to what to do, or if indeed anything needs to be done, is always down to the writer. Smart-Edit should be treated as a tool, and used in the same way you might use a spell checker or grammar checker. These tools are automated and have no artistic merit, so should never be taken as definitive signs that something is 'wrong' with your writing.
In this Section
A more advanced version of SmartEdit exists as a separate application.
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Smart-Edit works by scanning the current page and picking out words and phrases that appear again and again. Most settings are definable by the user, such as the amount of times a particular phrase must appear before it is highlighted, and the number of words that should appear in the phrase before it is marked for examination.
For example, you may decide that you only wish to examine repeats of phrases where the phrase occurs more than three times on the page, and where the phrase has four or more words.
When the scan is complete, a list of phrases and words appears to the left of the word processor, and double clicking on a particular phrase will immediately jump to the first occurrence of that phrase on the page. The F3 shortcut key will then allow you to jump to each successive occurrence of the phrase, and examine each in turn.
For the purposes of this explanation, an essay entitled What You Can't Say, written by Paul Graham, has been used. This essay can be found in Paul's book Hackers and Painters, or on his web-site, and consists of 5,466 words.
Open the Smart-Edit menu on the menu bar, or the drop down menu next to the Scan button on the toolbar, for a list of Smart-Edit options.
The options available are:
Scan Current Page. This scans the current page for duplicate words and phrases.
Settings. Opens the Smart-Edit Settings dialog. This allows you to specify the number of occurrences that identifies a repeat, the number of words in the phrase, and to edit lists of words and phrases that should not be included in repeat lists.
Phrase List. Opens the list of repeated phrases.
Word List. Opens the list of repeated words.
Save as Report File. Saves the results of the current scan to a text file. This is useful if you wish to use the results of the scan to edit your work in another word processor such as MS Word.
To scan the current page, open the Smart-Edit menu and select Scan Current Page, or click on the Scan button on the toolbar. The scan will only take a second or two. Should you be scanning a particularly large page, over a hundred thousand words for example, the scan may take a little longer. If you wish, you can stop the scan before it completes, and examine the results for the portion of the page that was successfully scanned.
Once the scan has completed, a list of phrases will appear to the left of the word processor, alongside the number of times the phrase was found in the current page. The list will be sorted such that the phrases that occur the greatest number of times will appear at the top.
In the example, the most common phrase was "of the", which appears 24 times. The first time you use the Smart-Edit feature, short, innocent phrases will appear near the top of the list. They may be similar to the example shown, or phrases that identify place names or characters in your work such as "Frodo said", or "The Grey Wizard."
These harmless phrases can easily be excluded from the results of future scans by adding them to the Ignored Phrases list. Simply select the phrase you have decided is harmless, open the right click menu, and choose Add to Ignored Phrases. Running the scan again will then produce a new list of phrases.
The right click menu has a few other options that should also be noted.
Find in Page. Jumps to the first occurrence of the phrase in the scanned page.
Add to Ignored Phrases. Adds the currently selected phrases to the list of phrases to ignore when scanning.
Word List. Opens the list of repeated words.
Sort. Allows you to sort the list of repeated phrases by the number of occurrences (the default), the number of words in the phrase, or alphabetically.
Settings. Opens the Smart-Edit settings dialog. This allows you to edit the lists of ignored phrases and words, and set options for future scans.
Jump to Notebook. Opens the Notebook list at the current page.
Once you begin examining the list of repeated phrases, some you will discount immediately, while others you may wish to examine further, and maybe even make changes to your work as a result. Double clicking or pressing the Enter key on a particular phrase will jump to the first instance of the phrase on the page, while using the standard Find Next shortcut key (F3) will then allow you to jump to each of the remaining instances of the phrase, making any necessary changes as you go.
The results of the scan, and the impact it can have on your work, are often best felt as you scroll down the list, to phrases that occur only a small number of times.
Sorting the list by the number of words in the phrase can also be a quick way of identifying long phrases that may only occur two or three times, but that you may not have been aware were repeated.
In the example to the right, a number of phrases of six and seven words were found occurring a small number of times. Now, in many cases, this will prove to be deliberate, as use of repeats can at times add to the readability of the work. Only you can decide if they need revision.
From the Smart-Edit menu, select Word List to open the list of repeated words. This works in exactly the same way as the Phrase List, with the words that occur the greatest number of times at the top. The first time you run a scan, common words like "the" and "and" will appear near the top of the list. These can be excluded from future scans by adding them to the Ignored Words List in the same way that harmless phrases were added to the Ignored Phrases List.