User Patterns

The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
Published Mar 30, 2013

Pro Writing Aid lets you add your own patterns so that you can flag certain things within your writing. Many organisations use this for creating a 'House Style'. Examples of house style rules are:

  • Always lowercase seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter.
  • Never use autumn, always use fall instead
  • Use capitals when denoting a region, for example 'university mergers in the North'

To add a pattern, fill in the following details:

1. In the Pattern field, enter the word or phrase you wish to find. The pattern can include:

  • · lowercase letters, hyphens, apostrophes and spaces if you wish to match on normal words without being case-sensitive,
  • · uppercase or lowercase letters with a backslash (\) in front of them making them case-sensitive, and making the pattern more specific,
  • · any other keyboard characters provided you put a backslash (\) in front of them to distinguish them as exact characters, or
  • · Wildcards (such as *?@) to make the pattern more general. Wildcards are explained in more detail below.

2. In the Category field, select the report that you wish to see your pattern highlighted in. By default the 'House Style' report is selected but you can choose any report. For instance you may wish to add something specifically to the 'Corporate Wording' report.

3. In the Advice Message box, type the message you want Pro Writing Aid to display. If you would like to include suggested replacement text that users can select from then put square brackets around it e.g. [this][that][the other].

Wildcards

You can use Wildcards in your string patterns to make them more generic, and hence more powerful. For instance if you would like to match 'stand up' and 'stands up' and 'standing up' you could use 'stand@@@ up'.

There are several different types of Wildcard that are understood by Pro Writing Aid.

The * Wildcard

The * Wildcard will match any number of letters, hyphens or apostrophes in a word or different words in a phrase. For example:

Pattern Will match with
Are *happy / are happy are unhappy
Are * happy / are very happy are not happy are often happy

The @ Wildcard

The @ Wildcard will match up to one letter, hyphen or apostrophe. It's usually used at the beginning or end of a word to match variants with different spelling and to set maximum word length. For example:

Pattern Will match with
@@happy / happy, unhappy
stand@@@ up / stand up, stands up, standing up
le@d / led, lead

If you use the @ Wildcard on the end of a word, you should add a space before the backslash to avoid matching any longer words.

The ? Wildcard

The ? Wildcard matches exactly one letter, hyphen or apostrophe. It is mainly used to find tense or spelling variations or to set minimum word length. For example:

Pattern Will match with
g?ve up / give up, gave up
????????* / all words over 8 characters
The # Wildcard

The # Wildcard is used to match a hyphen, space or no character. It is mainly used to find hyphenation issues as it can detect words written with a hyphen, as one joined word or as two separate words. For example:

Pattern Will match with
under#secretary / under-secretary under secretary undersecretary
half#hearted / half-hearted halfhearted half hearted

The . Wildcard

The . Wildcard is used to match a hyphen or space. It is used to find words that should be joined as one word. For example:

Pattern Will match with but not
under.secretary / under-secretary or under secretary undersecretary
half.hearted / half-hearted or half hearted halfhearted

The ^ Wildcard

The ^ Wildcard will match a hyphen or no character. Its main use is to find words that should be two separate words. For example:

Pattern Will match with but not
under^secretary / under-secretary or undersecretary under secretary
half^hearted / half-hearted or halfhearted half hearted

The ~ Wildcard

The ~ Wildcard will match a space or no character. It is used is to find words that should have a hyphen. For example:

Pattern Will match with but not
under~secretary / under secretary or undersecretary under-secretary
half~hearted / half hearted or halfhearted half-hearted

The ! Wildcard

The ! Wildcard will match an optional s. It is mainly uses to pick up both singular and plural of words. For example:

Pattern Will match with
conference! / Conference conferences

The S Wildcard

The S Wildcard will match an optional s with or without an apostrophe on either side. It will pick up singular, plural and possessive nouns. For example:

Pattern Will match with
FayS face / Fays face Fay's face Fays' face Fay face fay face

The = Wildcard

The = Wildcard will match any number, including decimal point and commas. For example:

Pattern Will match with
= cm / 6.25 cm 62,354 cm

The + Wildcard

The + Wildcard will match a single digit from 0 to 9. For example:

Pattern Will match with
\6++ / 600 601 602 … 699

The \ modifier

Using a \ before a character forces Pro Writing Aid to match only that exact character. You can use this to match any non-alphabetic character other than space, apostrophe and hyphen, or any alphabetic character where you want to be case sensitive. For example:

Pattern Will match with but not
\fay / fay Fay
\Conference / Conference conference
\I\S\B\N / ISBN Isbn

The & modifier

The & Wildcard matches any uppercase character. For example:

Pattern Will match with but not
& &* / C West or B Franks C west or b Franks
&&& / FUN or GPA or any TLA fun
 

Adding Suggested Replacements to Advice Messages

The [ ] brackets

To include suggested replacement text that users can choose from then put square brackets around the item in your message e.g.[this], [that, [the other]]. Pro Writing Aid changes the case of the replacement to match the text it found, i.e. either all lowercase, all UPPERCASE or Capitalized.

If you would like to include the option for the user to delete the text then specify [OMIT] in the message.

Message Matched text Suggestion
[cease] stop stop
Stop Stop
STOP STOP

The \ backslash

If you don't want Pro Writing Aid to match the case of the replacement just insert a backslash in front of the replacement.

Message Matched text Suggestion
[\Section] department Section
Department Section
DEPARTMENT Section

The * match place-holder

The asterisk (*) allows you to include the matched text in your message, just specify the * where you want the matched text to appear.

The ^ add Capital and ~ remove capital

If you want to change the capitalization of the matched text use an asterisk * inside the brackets with a caret ^ after the asterisk to force a capital, or a tilde ~ to remove it.
Message Matched text Displayed advice
Use a capital [*^] pilates Use a capital Pilates
Use lowercase [*~] Yoga Use lowercase yoga
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The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

The most successful people in the world have coaches. Whatever your level of writing, ProWritingAid will help you achieve new heights. Exceptional writing depends on much more than just correct grammar. You need an editing tool that also highlights style issues and compares your writing to the best writers in your genre. ProWritingAid helps you find the best way to express your ideas.

What can I do to search for words that ends a sentence? For example: I want to find the word WALKED in this sentence: "He walked." But skip this sentence: "He walked home." The period is used as a wildcard, so I can't search for "WALKED." (with the period)
By Dan Raymond Aas on 26 April 2016, 10:25 AM
House Style Report: Not finding words like: he'll, I'd, we'll, etc.
By davidpowers112 on 05 October 2016, 04:41 PM
Is there a way to set the software to search for contractions? I'm writing a historical romance and I'm trying to reduce my usage of contractions.
By markiemadden on 26 January 2017, 02:34 AM
I am attempting to create a collection of "words" which I would like identified. I followed the instructions to add "user patterns"; but, the instructions do not provide the desired outcome. The directions state "...If you would like to include the option for the user to delete the text then specify [OMIT] in the message...", yet this does not work. What you get when you select the word is "oMIT". A couple of sample statements I have tried: "You need to [OMIT] word", "[OMIT] Word", and of course "[OMIT]". I would like to upload 167 words and find adding them in the WEB page a little tedious; is there a way to upload a document/spreadsheet/text file/....anything other then one at a time, and have the OMIT actually work?
By Thomas Klinect on 06 December 2018, 03:11 PM