How can I search a text for internal repetitions?
March 7, 2011 7:08 AM   Subscribe

How can I search a text for internal repetitions?

I just caught an embarrassing paragraph that appears both in the introduction and in the fourth chapter of my manuscript. How can I be sure this hasn't happened elsewhere?

My editing process sometimes involves moving whole paragraphs from one place to another. Apparently, I have accidentally done this in a way that leaves the section where it was previously. Since the manuscript is too long to read in one sitting, and I've read the document so many times, I won't necessarily recognize that it's actually the same couple of sentences in two different places. It all looks repetitive to me at this point.

In my teaching, I use a service called Turnitin which finds external repetitions (i.e. plaigirism). Is there anything like that for internal repetitions? A paragraph is an awfully long "statistically improbably phrase."
posted by anotherpanacea to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This word processor, which is actually designed for novels, is structured to help created and edit large bodies of text to avoid exactly the kind of problem you identify. I don't know what you're writing, but it might lend itself well to your situation.
posted by londonmark at 7:41 AM on March 7, 2011

for work i use EditPadPro which has a 'Count' function to see how many times text appears, and of course the usual 'Find first' and 'Next' functions.
posted by karmaportrait at 8:28 AM on March 7, 2011

Response by poster: Hrm... Not sure if this is clear, but I don't know which sentences might be repeated. So "find" and related techniques don't help much, unless I run it on every sentence.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:20 PM on March 7, 2011

Best answer: I've used a probgramme called TextAnz for this. Not to check my own writing, mind, but to check for text repetitions in corpuses of historical documents. It may be overkill for what you need, but it does the job.
posted by Dreadnought at 12:34 PM on March 7, 2011

Response by poster: Awesome! Thanks!
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:55 PM on March 7, 2011

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