Introducing Style Check

Style Check is like having a personal editor-in-chief on your device, carefully reviewing your text for redundancies, clichés and filler words as you type. It’s simple, different, and powerful.

iA Writer Style Check - Before and After
Left: Dieter Rams 10 Principles of Design without Style Check. Right: After Style check. Obviously, that’s a trick. Dieter Rams doesn’t need Style Check. His original text was the one on the right, free of superfluous words.

About Style Check

Unlike your high-school language teacher, Style Check doesn’t tell you what is right. It grays out superfluous words and strikes them through hypothetically, so you can see how your text will flow with them removed. A double tap/click on a struck through word or phrase will select it for easy removal. It’s up to you which ones you remove and which ones you keep.

Sometimes you need fillers for rhythm, sometimes because you like them, and sometimes you really need them. Style check doesn’t want to delete everything it highlights. It wants to make you think and reconsider if what you said is what you meant.

Crucially, no deletions occur unless you choose to do them. Nothing is ever automatically removed and no content is sent to an internet service for review. Style Check is designed to keep your texts private. All processing is done directly on your devices.

Being clear, concise and reducing things to their essence are core principles at iA. Our apps are built with these ideas in mind. It happens that good writing follows the same principles. Cut the fat. Remove the fluff. Style Check improves your text by distilling it into a concentrated, more potent form. We’ve been using Style Check internally for the last couple of months and it has exceeded our expectations.

It’s not like any of the existing grammar checkers or functions. There is no AI, it is not smarter than you, and it doesn’t steal your texts. It makes you think about what you say. And yet it can improve your writing instantaneously. Let’s take a closer look at the individual categories of Style Check.

Fillers

These are words that don’t add any meaning to the surrounding text. They are usually unnecessary and should be removed. There are times you may want to keep one or two around, but you want a good reason to do so. Examples:

  • basically
  • pretty much
  • sort of

There are plenty1 of resources2 on the Web. Most of them3 list 20-30 words to avoid. There are hundreds of filler words.

Redundancies

William Strunk: “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”4 There is no need to say the same thing twice. Examples:

  • basic fundamentals
  • combine together
  • fall down

Unlike fillers, there aren’t good reasons to keep these in your texts, even occasionally.

Clichés

Orwell5 reminded us to “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print”. This is good advice. Style Check will seek these out and you can swap them out for something more original and inspired. Examples:

  • against all odds
  • brass tacks
  • long and short of it

How to use it

Style Check is found in the Focus menu on Mac and the aA button on iOS. Checking for redundancies, clichés and fillers can be toggled independently from this menu, in the same way as choosing parts of speech for Syntax Control. If you have other patterns you wish to avoid in your writing you can add these to the Custom section. Style Check will strike them out when it comes across them.

iA Writer 5.6 offers Style Check for English, German and French. We’ll be bringing support for more languages soon. If you’re interested in helping improve Style Check for a yet unsupported language, please get in touch.

One more thing

Style Check has been a lot of fun to produce and it took a lot of effort to optimize it running on large texts. As a byproduct of this work, we’ve made massive strides in efficiencies loading and parsing all files, whether you are using Style Check or not. Markdown files load 350 times faster than the previous version of iA Writer! So, if you haven’t already updated, get the free update now.


  1. The Write Place: Want to Be a Better Writer? Cut These 7 Words 
  2. My Book Cave: 17 Words to avoid in your writing 
  3. Your Dictionary: Avoid these 15 filler words 
  4. William Strunk, Jr., Elements of Style 
  5. Orwell, Politics and the English Language