Computer-Aided Editing — Present and Future

  • J. Douglas Kniffin


This paper describes computer-aided editing systems which analyze English text and suggest improvements. The systems described are vastly different from the familiar word processing programs which permit editing changes such as insertions and deletions of characters, words, or lines of text. These new systems analyze the style and style difficulty of text and provide feedback to writers and editors for improving readability and comprehensibility. Three systems designed originally for examining the complexity of technical documents are described. These are the Bell Laboratories Writer’s Workbench, the U.S. Navy Computer Readability Editing System, and the Westinghouse Writing Aids System. Though in varying stages of development, the features of the three systems are listed and compared and the research or other basis behind the editing features is discussed. Some limited data on the use of the systems and their acceptance by users are also presented. The paper concludes with a discussion of future applications of the systems such as writing instruction, style comparison, and computer-aided translation.


Abstract Word Bell Laboratory Speech Analysis Sentence Opener Style Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    M. D. Mcllroy, “Development of a Spelling List,” IEEE Transactions on Communications, Special Issue on Communications in the Automated Office, 30, No. 1 (January 1982), pp 91–99.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    N. H. Macdonald, L. T. Frase, P. S. Gingrich, and S. A. Keenan, “The Writer’s Workbench: Computer Aids for Text Analysis,” IEEE Transactions on Communications, Special Issue on Communications in the Automated Office, 30, No. 1 (January 1982), pp 105–110.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. P. Kincaid, J. A. Aagard, and J. W. O’Hara, “Development and Test of a Computer Readability Editing System (CRES),” TAEG Report No. 83, Orlando, Florida (March 1980).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    N. H. Macdonald, “The Writer’s Workbench: Rationale and Design,” Bell System Technical Journal, Special Issue on Human Factors and Behavioral Science (In Press).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    L. L. Cherry, “Writing Tools,” IEEE Transactions on Communications, Special Issue on Communications in the Automated Office, 30, No. 1 (January 1982), pp 100–105.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    J. P. Kincaid, TAEG, (personal communication).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    R. A. Lanham, Revising Prose, New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons (1979).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    R. Cox, “Computer Readability Editing System Users Manual”, TAEG, Orlando, Florida (June 1982).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    J. D. Kniffin, “Phrase Substitution Dictionary” Westinghouse Electric Corporation, (Unpublished), (1982).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    J. A. Brogan, Clear Technical Writing, New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., (1973),, pp 147–148.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    G. R. Klare, A Manual for Readable Writing, Glen Burnie, Maryland: REM Company, (1980).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    D. W. Ewing, Writing for Results, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., (1974).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    L. T. Frase, Bell Laboratories, (personal communication).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    J. D. Kniffin, “The New Readability Requirements for Military Technical Manuals,” Technical Communication, (Third Quarter 1979), pp 16–19.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    R. Flesch, “A New Readability Yardstick,” Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 32, (1948), pp 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    J. P. Kincaid, R. P. Fishburne, R. L. Rogers, and B. S. Chisom, “Derivation of New Readability Formulas (Automated Readability Index, Fog Count, and Flesch Reading Ease Formula) for Navy Enlisted Personnel,” Navy Training Command Research Branch Report 8–75, (1975).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    E. A. Smith and J. P. Kincaid, “Derivation and Validation of the Automated Readability Index for Use with Technical Manuals,” Human Factors, Vol. 12, (1970), pp 457–464.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    M. Coleman and T. L. Liau, “A Computer Readability Formula Designed for Machine Scoring,” Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 60, (1975), pp 283–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    J. P. Kincaid, R. Braby, and W. H. Wulfeck, “Computer Aids for Editing Test Questions,” Educational Technology, (in press), (1982)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    P. S. Fredericks, “The Instructional Quality Inventory III Training Workbook”, NPRDC Special Report 80–25, San Diego, California, (1980).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    E. Dale and J. O’Rourke, The Living Word Vocabulary, Elgin, Illinois: DOME Inc., (1976).Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    H. Kucera and W. N. Francis, Computational Analysis of Present-Day American English, Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University Press, (1967).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    E. J. Pierce and J. D. Kniff in, “WRITEAIDS User’s Manual”, (unpublished).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    R. Gunning, The Technique of Clear Writing, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, (1968).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Douglas Kniffin
    • 1
  1. 1.Westinghouse Electric CorporationUSA

Personalised recommendations