The (anonymous) reviewer of a paper I am working on at the moment pointed me to this tool called Nitpicker, written by Niels Lohmann. Its subtitle describes it as “an overly picky language style checker” and after using it this morning to check the style of the aforementioned paper I would add “that is absolutely simple to use, even in the face of poorly formatted text, and provides very helpful style recommendations“. I guess that subtitle would be too long, though…

The tool basically consists of a textbox to which you can copy your text, hit analyze and in milliseconds it highlights problematic words or phrasings and provides an explanation why this is the case as well as advice on how to improve it. I used my LaTeX sources directly, so there were a lot of special characters and macros in the text, but this didn’t bother Nitpicker at all. I would suggest you give Nitpicker a try, I certainly will use it again.

2 thoughts on “Nitpicker

  1. Hi,

    first of all, please let me point out that “a quick test” is not quite the kind of evidence that supports statements like “that tool is useless”.

    The tool certainly isn’t perfect. So far there is no free tool that replaces a professional (human) translator. What I do with nitpicker is to check the submission versions of my research papers. Typically, it points out a lot of things that I do not aggree with and some things I find very helpful. These things make my paper around 2 % better which for a research paper is totally worth it.

    Finally, if we want better tools, the best way to get them is to build them ourselves. Did you use nitpicker’s interface to give it feedback about wrong suggestions? If not, please do so!

  2. Sorry, but that tool is useless. I just ran a quick test, and it didn’t even spit the contractions I used (intentionally) back in my face. Instead it suggested to replace the word “following” with “after”.

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