BlogHow to Use ProWritingAidHow to Use the ProWritingAid Echoes Report

How to Use the ProWritingAid Echoes Report

The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
Published Oct 06, 2020

How to Use The Repeats Check

Repeating a word or phrase happens to the best of us, especially if you’re writing an article and using a specific vocabulary for your topic. You won’t even notice you’ve used the same word several times in the span of one paragraph because it’s foremost in your mind.

But those repeats can set off an echo in the reader’s mind – that subconscious feeling of “Didn’t he just say that?” It can be irritating to read and, worse, it can detract from what you are trying to say. The more uncommon a word or phrase, the more likely it is to echo, even pages apart.

Consider the following text:

  • At your next get-together, cook together as a family and enjoy the benefits of creating a meal together and the bond you’ll create.

It is easy as the reader to point out how many times “together” is used in the above example, but as the writer, you know what you meant to express and so the emphasis sounds natural to you.

Although it happens all the time, it can be difficult for you, as the writer, to spot when you re-read it. When you are editing you usually go over the same piece several times and so you become impervious to that echo feeling. And when you are looking at a sentence on its own and making amendments, you can sometimes input a word that is just right for that sentence, forgetting that you also used it in the one before or after.

ProWritingAid’s Echoes Report highlights words and phrases repeated within a few paragraphs so you can easily track down unintended repetition and replace it with a more diverse vocabulary.

  1. How to Use The Echoes Report
  2. How is The Echoes Report Useful?
  3. Final Thoughts
  4. Ready to Start Editing for Stronger Writing?

How to Use The Echoes Report

You can find the Echoes Report in the 'Repeats' section of the ProWritingAid toolbar. The report appears in all of ProWritingAid's apps, extensions and integrations, so you can use it wherever you write. Simply open the editor, upload your text and hit 'Echoes'.

screenshot of the echoesreport

The report will highlight all repeats that are within a couple of paragraphs of each other. In the example above, I've used 'It happens to the best of us' twice within a couple of sentences. The report highlights this phrase within my document and lists it in the navigation menu to the left.

If I hover over the phrase in the list, a toolbar appears (as above). If you decide you're happy to repeat the word or phrase, this gives you the option to hide its highlights within your document so that you can focus on other repeats. If you'd like to jump to that phrase within your text, you can use the arrows to the right of the toolbar allow you to move quickly between instances of that phrase.

To navigate all of the highlights in your document, simply hover your mouse over '9 Close Repeats' at the top of the menu. A similar toolbar will appear, however now the arrows to the right will skip through each highlight in the report so you can deal with them methodically.

How is The Echoes Report Useful?

Now you know how to navigate the report, let's look at how you can use it to make your writing stronger.

Let's say you're writing a novel. You want to use strong words that convey an image clearly to your reader, so when you write...

"Susie craned her neck to look at the big mountain that stood before her."

...'big' doesn't really cut it. So then you try:

"Susie craned her neck to look at the gargantuan mountain that stood before her."

Gargantuan isn't a word that's used much day to day. Using it in the first place might be a little risky, so using it twice is a definite no-go. But because it's an unfamiliar word, it sits at the top of your mind. So a few sentences later:

"Susie craned her neck to look at the gargantuan mountain that stood before her. When she left her small town before embarking on this crazy journey, the tallest thing she’d ever seen was the steeple of the old church in the square. Scaling the mountain would be a gargantuan task."

When you're in the flow of writing, words can leap onto the page without you really noticing. Sure, you're likely to pick up an unusual repeats like 'gargantuan' yourself when you proofread, but sometimes when you're paying close attention to grammar errors or typos the more everyday words slip through.

For example, did you notice 'mountain'?

screenshot of echoes report highlights. 'Gargantuan' and 'mountain' are highlighted

If you didn't, you might be wondering what the problem is. If you, the reader, didn't notice it, then it won't set off that echo. Maybe not, but this does highlight an opportunity to be a little more specific.

We've already established that Susie has to climb a mountain. We also know that its height is a factor in how difficult it will be to climb. So instead of using its size again, let's look at the details:

"Susie craned her neck to look at the gargantuan mountain that stood before her. When she left her small town before embarking on this crazy journey, the tallest thing she’d ever seen was the steeple of the old church in the square. She looked up at the jagged rocks, noticing a few of them were loose and close to slipping. She'd have to tread carefully."

Now we know why the task will be particularly difficult. We have a couple of details to start imagining the scene.

With the Echoes Report, you can see clearly where you've used a word repeatedly, allowing you to recognize the places where you can fill in the gaps and enrich your scenes and descriptions.

Final Thoughts

Noticing every single repeat in your manuscript isn't easy. With the Echoes Report, you can quickly figure out where you need to focus to make the most improvement in the shortest amount of time.

Ready to Start Editing for Stronger Writing?

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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.

I tried to do the repeats but it is very confusing. How do I find the repeats? There are so many it fills the page and I don't know how to find them.
By horsecounsellor on 11 October 2018, 06:12 PM
There is Echo, then all repeats and then overused... all 3 do almost the same. I am lost.
By Rashmi Agrawal on 16 October 2018, 01:14 PM
I like this facility. However, I would like to specify the word I want to check for repeats. The words and phrases are, seemingly, picked at random. Does this facility exist?
By royjackaman1 on 05 August 2019, 04:09 PM
What is the normal percentage for repeats. Dialogue attributions are bound to be repeated specially for middle grade and YA fiction. Can genre specific reports be generated?
By deepshikha.mehta on 12 February 2020, 12:38 AM
To people getting confused between the repeat and echo functions, it's pretty simple. The repeat function is more for picking up repetition of phrases throughout the document, things that may stand out to the reader as something they've just read, such as 'Jason tore his shirt off' - you wouldn't want that same phrase popping up further down the page as it lacks creativity, originality and leaves the reader thinking you're forgetful of what you've already written down. Use the repetition function enough and you'll soon realize that as much as you think you're being creative and clever in your writing, certain patterns, phrasing, and word usage are somewhat hot-wired into your brain - you put them down without even thinking about it. The echo function picks up where repetition leaves off, in that it focuses on single identical words that appear too close together, even in the same sentence, such as 'he said that he said that'. If they're spaced far enough apart and not too uncommon you can get away with it, but if you start using words like 'gargantuan'' over and over it will stand out as poor writing. I typically work through the repetition' function first, and when I get down to the single words breeze through looking for uncommon choices that have been repeated in the document, changing them as I go. From there I go to the echo function and start cleaning up the close associations. Works for me. :)
By wildepuzzles on 20 November 2020, 09:45 PM
Yes! Thank you so much for this user insight. We love it!!
By amy.cohen on 24 November 2020, 09:59 PM

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