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{short description of image}Bicarb

The Bicarb for Windows software has never been on general sale and is no longer being developed or supported, but was slightly tidied up in early 2018. You may download it at no cost. The only available documentation is that contained in the ample Help information.

Bicarb for Windows is another simple word-use analysis program (see also Grease) from Ansible Information. Unusually, it was commissioned by Terry Pratchett in the late 1990s rather than being our own idea. As a high-output author, Terry fretted about jarring sensitive readers by undue repetition of particular words. Hence he named this program Bicarb because the idea is to "stop you repeating".

Bicarb works its way through any document saved in plain text format – or simply copied from your word processor to the Windows clipboard – and flags all repetitions of significant words within a certain interval. The default interval is 100 words, so if you use a particular word like "grotesque" twice within 100 words of your masterpiece, Bicarb will highlight the repetition. You can easily set longer or shorter intervals: 50 words, 2000 words, whatever you like.

Bicarb works in conjunction with an always-ignore list of common and uninteresting words, of which a starter set is provided in the accompanying text file Bicarb.dat (which can be inspected or edited as you please from within Bicarb). When all these nuts and bolts like "the" and "and" are ignored by the repetition monitor, the more significant repetitions remain. The results can sometimes be alarming.

Additionally, Bicarb takes note of two further lists of words to be ignored: the session list of words that will be ignored during the present program run only, and a project list associated with the current book project. Typically, for Terry Pratchett, the project list would be named for the current Discworld novel and would fill up with character names and placenames. You can create multiple project lists and switch between them at will.

There is also a Dump option which whizzes through the entire current text and copies all not-yet-ignored repetitions to the session list. This can then be examined in a custom editor, and words to be ignored copied individually or in blocks to either the project or the always-ignore list.

We don't promise that Bicarb will help you write like Terry Pratchett, but perhaps it will provide an insight or two.