This post goes hand in hand with my post from my 30 Days of Editing Strategies, specifically Day 28 where I demonstrate an activity where writers can eliminate Crutch and Filter words.
Microsoft Word includes several different colors for highlighting text. This can be useful when looking for patterns of Crutch and Filter words that are detrimental to our writing by allowing us to use less powerful words or repetitious language that either bore our readers or pull them away from the action in a sequence.
Imagine searching for all the possible words that are "trouble" words or phrases and having them highlighted in different colors at the beginning of the editing process so that as you start working through your manuscript they jump out at you as items that possibly need some correction. That is the power behind using the highlighter in word. (Alternately, if you have a lot of different types of words or phrases you want to stand out, you can use font coloring as well.)
For example, if your goal is to eliminate the words "thing" and "stuff" and provide more powerful descriptions, you could have all those words highlighted in the color green. If you also wanted to catch as many adverbs as you could in order to exchange them for more powerful verbs, you could highlight them in an alternate color like light blue.
Rather than finding all of the words and manually highlighting them, you can use Word's very powerful Find and Replace feature.
Find and Replace with Highlighting
In these instructions, I will use the examples provided above for "thing" and "stuff" (green) and "ly " words (light blue).
To Remove all the Highlighting from your Manuscript: