This is a bit of an extension on the previous post about “just” showing up too much. While it’s probably old news to everyone but me, the method used by Peter Millican of Oxford University and Patrick Juola of Duquesne University to discover J.K. Rowling was in fact the author of the Cuckoo’s Calling demonstrates how identifiable an author is by the word choices, and the frequency of those choices that they make. I’ve always been big on macros, and found this one to be helpful in ferreting out overused “weak” words and phrases. For those writers who haven’t used macros, you should be aware of them because, even if you don’t care about word frequency, you never know when a macro could save days of valuable time you could use to write. Essentially anything in Word (or Excel) you find yourself doing over, and over, and over again is a prime candidate. There are plenty of good introductions on the Net, but to help anyone curious on how to use the frequency macro by Allen Wyatt that I linked to, here’s a quick tutorial.
0) Make sure to save and back up the document you want to analyze
1) Open the document you want to analyze in Word
2) In the menu bar, select Tools
3) Select the “Macro” list item (it might be hidden away if you haven’t used it before)
4) Select the “Visual Basic Editor”
5) Double click on your document in the left hand window
6) Paste the macro above into the editor window
7) If your version of Word is really old, it might complain about the two lines with the “_” at the end (they’ll be marked in red), so delete those “_”s and bring the next line together with the first one.
ex) j = MsgBox(“The maximum array size has been exceeded. Increase maxwords.”, vbOKOnly)
ex) j = MsgBox(“There were ” & Trim(Str(WordNum)) & ” different words “, vbOKOnly, “Finished”)
8) Look for the icon with the VCR/DVD player style “Play” button at the top and click it
9) Sort by FREQ frequency
10) Word will stop responding for a bit, but in a minute or so, you’ll have a list of the words you used in the document
0 and 1) Same as above
2) Go to the Developer Tab, if it’s not there, turn it on.
3) Select the Developer Tab (see the link in 2 for help if needed)
4) Select the Visual Basic icon on the left
5-10) Same as above