doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Writing with Expresso

I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing.

It’s kind of amazing, considering that I haven’t had a course in English since secondary school  Even there, I only took the courses grudgingly.  Looking back now, I wish that I’d paid more attention or put more enthusiasm into my efforts.

I don’t think I do a bad job – I generally get my its and it’s correct; same with they’re, there, and their.  I try not to leave things hanging or dangling.  I usually do a pre-writing, writing, and proofreading when I do my blogging.  Thankfully, I also have kind readers who’ll fire me off a note or a message on the sly should something still slip though.

I do subscribe to blogs that promise to make you a better writer.  I think I’ve got the blog format down pat – a title to catch attention, a first paragraph or two to set the stage, a body to elaborate on my thoughts, and then a closure with usually a call to action to the reader.  I try to leave the door open for thoughts or suggestions on my premise to encourage interaction should readers wish.

I use the WordPress writing checker to help me make my efforts as good as they possibly can be.  I’m still working to avoid writing in the passive voice but I’m starting this that that may, in fact, be just me.

When I read about “Expresso“, I thought that this was great.  It will make me a better writer and, hopefully, a better blogger.

Expresso is a web app.  You just enter the text you want analysed there and sit back to read the results.


I sent the above to Expresso and here are the results.  It’s actually, four images that align fairly well below.

Whoa!  (I should do it again – I now have 1 exclamative sentence)

I think I got cheated in my English classes.  I don’t think I’ve ever had an analysis of my writing like this ever.  Usually, it’s just a return of my original writing with lots of red circles and arrows.

The tab that lists the metrics applied against the writing reads like a curriculum document.  There’s a great deal of good information here.  It did indeed bring back a flood of memories about learning.

There’s a great deal to think about as a result of this analysis.  I think I’m going to try this app for a while as I write to see what it can do to make me better.

Would you trust an app like this to help make you better?

The site’s best piece of immediate advice?

Good writing style remains an art, not a science…


8 responses to “Writing with Expresso”

  1. Arta Szathmary Avatar
    Arta Szathmary

    Thank you for sharing this app. I am teaching an Introduction to Information Systems course online this semester. The final project is collaborative, includes a research piece on evolving technology and then a 5 minute presentation.

    I will suggest that groups use Expresso on their shared document before posting it to a google site. Sounds like a useful web 2.0 tool.


  2. […] I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing. It's kind of amazing, considering that I haven't had a course in English since secondary school Even there, I only took the courses grudgingly. …  […]


  3. Mary-Ann Fuduric, OCT Avatar
    Mary-Ann Fuduric, OCT

    Very useful tool! Going to check out some of my past blog posts to see how I did and then use it in the future to improve my writing!


  4. What a fun read. Thanks. For sure Expresso helps the writer know, quite a lot too. It made me think about how the information might be put to use to benefit fledgling writers. In the classroom students could highlight the first word in every sentence of their writing. If each word was dominantly the same (often it is “the”), without an ethos, pathos, or logos reason, they could be shown (pardon the passive voice) how lustre could be added to the writing by beginning their sentences, for example, with an adverb, an adjective or two, a prepositional phrase, or a participial phrase. If a word-count of their sentences showed constancy, they could be encouraged to vary the lengths to keep the interest of the reader. The highlighting of “be, is, are, was, were” was a quick first step to identifying the passive voice so that they could make changes, if they so wished. The Expresso web-app tool and teacher guidance sound like they would make a great pair.


  5. Thanks for sharing! I would definitely use this with my ELL students, and share it with Spec Ed. I would see this as useful for student journalists or those who struggle with writing.


  6. […] I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing. It's kind of amazing, considering that I haven't had a course in English since secondary school Even there, I only took the courses grudgingly. …  […]


  7. Philip Cummings Avatar
    Philip Cummings

    Doug, thanks for sharing the app and the analysis of your own writing so that we could see how it works. This is powerful information to assist with the revision process. I’m going to start using it personally and with my students immediately.


  8. Best of luck to all those who said that they were going to try it out. I’ll be interested in hearing your results.


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