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Tip Tuesday #46

Happy Tuesday! I have a tip to share from Katharina (Cat) Gerlach. It's similar to a tip I featured in the past, but it's a good one and Cat approaches it from a different angle. Here she is!

As writers, we are always told not to use adverbs and that usually is sound advice. Now, I noticed that I keep missing the little monsters, especially if reading on screen. So, how do I make sure that I keep only those few adverbs that I really, really need? I color them. It's fairly easy. This is how you do it:

Open the manuscript and choose a color for highlighting (In MS Word the icon is on the far right and looks like a knife hovering over a line).

Open the "Search and Replace" dialog of your writing program and enter "ly" in the search and in the replace box. Then, with the cursor in the replace box, click on a button called "More" or "Expand" or something similar (it depends a bit on which program you use) which will give you additional options. Choose "Format" and "Highlight" and then click on "Replace All". Now, you won't miss the brightly colored -ly words any more when reading through your manuscript.

By the way, this can be used for any other annoying word or word combination you use.

This is such a useful tip. It definitely helps to tame down those "ly" and overused words. Does anyone use it for anything else? Thanks for sharing, Cat!


  1. Ooh! Great advice! I can use it on my thats.

  2. Oh, yes! I've done this before and it is super helpful.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a practical and helpful tip. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great idea. I did that for passive verbs, and it helped a ton. :)

  5. Great tip. Thanks for sharing it. I have a list of redundant words I search for as I finish revisions on my chapters.

  6. Oh, that's an excellent idea. Thanks Cat and Casey!

  7. I use this trick a LOT. I also use it to catch "to be" verb forms and words in a passage I notice repeating a lot. Before I'm finished with a scene or chapter, I generally do this about five times.

    It can be tedious, but very effective and helpful.

  8. OOOOOHhhhhh, loving this one!!!! I'm old school, I actually print the MS out and manually highlight stuff, but I'm going to go try this now. GREAT TIP!!!! Thanks!!!!!

  9. great tip--for me it will be great for catching my favorite overused phrases.

  10. A light bulb just went off. I feel dumb for not already doing this.

  11. Cool tip! I'm gonna start using it! :D

  12. It's funny that I never worried about adverbs until I started looking at how to improve my second drafts. Then the little buggers started showing up everywhere...sloppily everywhere, I might add.

    I'll have to look out for it while working on my current work on Textnovel. I hope you all don't mind a slight plug, but I'd love to hear what you all think of my current work in progress! It can be found if you click on my name.

  13. Excellent advice! I've tamed the -ly words but love to use the word "just." Now I get to search through the entire ms to find how many I have!

  14. This is a great tool--I only just discovered it a few months ago. I didn't realize how much I overuse "-ing" words until I learned to use this help. Great tip to pass along...

  15. Never knew you could do this. Thanks so much!

  16. hmmmm awesome stuff here.

    gave you an award today on my blog :)

    cant wiat to see you next week :)

  17. This is a great tip and very helpful. I love this series!