So you’ve written a philosophy essay, you’ve referenced Derrida a fair bit, you quote from other scholars, and your topic is post-structuralist feminism. The WritersDiet Test is probably not going to be kind to you.  Your work is loaded with zombie nouns (post-structuralism and feminism, for a start) and other people’s words – which, however flabby they may be, you cannot change.

Luckily, there is help at hand.  By using the Advanced tab, you can exclude specified words or phrases from being counted when you run the test:

Wildcards apply; for example, by typing post-structural* you can instruct the test to exclude the words post-structuralism, post-structuralist and post-structural all in one fell swoop.

Advanced tab screenshot

The Advanced tools also allow you to tailor the test to suit your preferred referencing style. By default, all items inside parentheses are excluded from the word count (a handy option if you employ a parenthetical referencing style such as APA or MLA).  However, if you want parenthetical phrases to be counted, you can simply tick the “Include items inside parentheses” box.

Items enclosed within double or single quotation marks are included in the word count by default.  You may prefer to exclude quoted material (the basic principle being that you want the test to count only your own words, not someone else’s).  However, be aware that this option can cause problems when turned on, particularly if your passage contains typos or improperly bracketed quotes; one or two backwards quotation marks or misplaced apostrophes may trigger the unintended consequence of causing the test to exclude most of your text.  (If such a result occurs, you can correct the problem by re-pasting your passage into the text box, manually correcting the problematic punctuation, and running the test again.)

The Advanced tool is intended to help you fine-tune your diagnosis – so please don’t be tempted to employ it merely as a cheat to help you improve your scores!  For example, if you’ve received a “heart attack” rating in the noun category because you used the word globalization ten times in a single paragraph, maybe you should think about employing a more varied vocabulary and enlivening your abstract argument with some concrete examples, rather than rewarding your most thuggish zombie noun with a “get out of jail free” card.

Still have questions about the Advanced tab?  You can learn more about the exclusion options by clicking on the blue ‘why’ link next to each one.