BlogHow to Use ProWritingAidCreating Custom Rules with the ProWritingAid Style Guide

Creating Custom Rules with the ProWritingAid Style Guide

Tom Wilde
Head of Client Solutions
Published Dec 07, 2019

ProWritingAid Style Guide Example Image

Every organization has certain writing standards that they want their team members to follow. Maybe they want to make sure that their CEO’s unusual name is spelled correctly, or that their most-used acronyms are punctuated consistently. Enforcing those standards can be very difficult. It’s one thing to write a detailed style guide but ensuring employees use it (or even find it) is a bigger challenge.

ProWritingAid allows organizations to create their own style guide. You can automate your rules so that your team’s writing is always on-brand. We’ll show you how to set up basic rules here – there’s plenty you can do with simple rules. In fact, most organization-specific rules focus on terminology, including correct spellings, punctuation and capitalization. And these are among the simplest rules to create. If you are more experienced with Natural Language Processing, we’ll be publishing more guidelines for more detailed rule writing very soon.

Contents:
  1. How Does Creating a Custom Style Guide Work?
  2. The Three Elements of a Writing Rule
  3. How to Create Simple Writing Rules
  4. Simple Rules, Powerful Changes

How Does Creating a Custom Style Guide Work?

First of all, you need to navigate to the style guides section of the ProWritingAid website.

Go to your account page. If you’re in the editor, you can click the icon in the top right corner and go to ‘Profile’.

Profile Menu

From your profile (account) screen, select the top left menu and you’ll find ‘Style Guides’ at the bottom of the list.

Style Guide Menu

Style Guide Box Page

Welcome to your style guide page.

Click on the + icon to create your first rule.

The Three Elements of a Writing Rule

Creating a writing rule for your Style Guide is like creating a more robust “Find and replace” function. You’ll be able to set specific rules for what you want to flag and how you want to change it.

There are three basic elements of a writing rule:

  • The match: this is the text that will be flagged in the document
  • The suggested replacement
  • The message shown to the user

Style Guide Box Popout

The Wrong Sentence Field

In our style guide tool, we also include a ‘Wrong Sentence’ field as well as the three parts mentioned above. This lets you write an example sentence that includes the wrong term, phrase, punctuation etc.

By clicking ‘Show Sentence Analysis’ it will turn your sentence into a computer interpretation of its grammatical components (this is a process known as sentence parsing).

How to Create Simple Writing Rules

Let’s look at a common example of how to make simple changes to text: swapping one word or phrase for another.

Swapping Correct Names and Places

The University of Chicago was concerned that many of their students and faculty were using “Chicago University” when referring to the institution. To prevent this, they could create a suggestion in the style guide that reminds everyone of the correct name. 

So we complete the four text fields in the tool, like this:

Style Guide Box Popout

Now, the message will show up in the editing tool like this (simply click on the suggested replacement and it will complete the swap): 

Example in tool

Using Correct Terminology

If you have a preference for correct terminology (e.g. using “clients” instead of “customers”), you can create rules for this as well.

Example in tool

It's an easy swap:

Example in tool

Correcting Capitalization

Another company's support team would often capitalize ‘virtual waiting room’, but not always. They didn't like this inconsistency and wanted to enforce lower case spelling in all scenarios.

Example in tool

They didn't want to flag the term when it was written in the correct way (all lower case), only those in uppercase. No problem. Use the \ symbol before the term to tell the computer it's a case sensitive match.

Example in tool

Simple Rules, Powerful Changes

These simple examples just scratch the surface of what you can accomplish with our Style Guides. Soon, we’ll share how you can create more advanced rules using tokens and basic code.

Feel free to share any feedback, questions, or comments on the Style Guide with us at hello@prowritingaid.com.

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Tom Wilde
Head of Client Solutions

Tom really likes taking people for lunch, under the pretence of helping clients to solve their problems. He spent 12 years growing a leading business-writing training company before he realised that he could help even more people here at ProWritingAid. Having developed writing courses for clients ranging from global consultancies to local governments, he really has an answer for everything; we suspect he gets his kids to quiz him at breakfast.

Out of work, Tom's usually found in the water, on his bike or trying to grow an eclectic range of vegetables – which, of course, he likes to serve his family during the breakfast quiz.