Magazine article Information Today

WordWeb Opens New Doors in Word Processing

Magazine article Information Today

WordWeb Opens New Doors in Word Processing

Article excerpt

Since their advent, personal computers have always helped you look good when you write, no matter what you write, from school papers to company reports. If you like communicating with the written word, you probably also like trying out new writing utilities.

Utility programming is a fascinating area with individual programmers trying to improve the major office-type programs in ways that Microsoft and the other big boys haven't thought of yet. It's always a moving target. If a function fills a need, such as spell checking, it eventually moves from the province of utilities to being a standard feature of the program itself.

One of the most interesting writing utilities out there today is a one-click dictionary, thesaurus, and reference program for Windows called WordWeb. It's the brainchild of Antony Lewis, a freethinking Brit from Cambridge, England.

Similar utilities are included with Microsoft Office, though WordWeb improves upon them, and it's easily accessible from just about any Windows program, not only those of Microsoft Office. The program isn't yet available for the Mac or Linux, though Lewis says he's working on it.

How It Works

Here's how the program works. Say you want more information about a particular word. Just hold down the Ctrl key and right-click on the word in your word processing, email, web, or other document. In some programs, you can't use the mouse this way--you need to double-click on the word to highlight it then press the WordWeb hot key. The default hot key is Ctrl-Alt-W, but this and other options can be changed.

The program then opens a window on your screen that shows you definitions of the word as well as its synonyms. Click on the word Replace, and the program replaces the word with the synonym of your choice.

You can optionally click on various tabs that provide a wealth of other information, such as a list of the types of the thing or action that the word represents, its components, or what it's a component of instead. So the program can jog your memory or jump-start your creativity.

You can also click on the program's Wikipedia tab to read its encyclopedia entry, if one exits using the word you've selected. Or you can click on the WordWeb Online tab to read more about what the word represents from a host of other web research sites or to have the word translated into a host of different foreign languages.

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Pronunciation 101

If you'd like to know how the word is pronounced, instead of deciphering the phonetic spelling, you can alternately click on the microphone icon and a male voice will say the word to you through your computer's speakers. …

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