Ever since I began writing regularly, I’ve been searching for an enhanced dictionary and thesaurus tool that would be available inline with my word processor. Unsure of exactly what I wanted, I was willing to go the CD ROM route, but I preferred a plug-in that would not necessitate leaving the desktop; perhaps a software download that would allow me access to a better selection of definitions and synonyms than those available in the various writing programs that I use. the issue, as always, has been one of accessibility. There are some great editor’s products and writing tools available, but not to me, since I use a screen reader. I finally found one in the form of a free download called Word Web.
Word Web is a little gem that can plug in to almost any word processor you are using. One feature that was important to me is the ability to stay on the desktop, and not be forced online to get a synonyms list, if my word processor did not have a built-in thesaurus. Case in point, Jarte, which is one of my favorite programs. When in Jarte, I can now just click on the thesaurus option and Word Web pops right up in my document. It is easy to use, although I do admit that it is not necessarily intuitive, until you realize that the menu structure is that of a system of tabs. You can tab to various options, then make your choice from what appears in the tab.
Word Web offers a free download, subject to the user agreement. The basic paid version, Word Web Pro, without add-ons, is only $20. While the free version will certainly get you where you need to go, I recommend the paid version if you are a serious writer who needs access to advanced tools such as collegiate dictionaries and an augmented selection of words, pronunciations and variations.
What makes Word Web unique is that you are not stuck with the short list of obvious choices that are typically found in most word processors. You are also given a list of examples of usage, nearest words, synonyms, and other types of the chosen word. I have found this particularly useful when I’ve written myself into a corner, produced a perfectly horrible sentence, and have needed a way out. By showing me other versions of the same word, and examples of how I might use it, I can obliterate the offending prose and rework the sentence to my satisfaction. If you purchase Word Web, there is an included list of audio pronunciations that is professionally recorded and would be very useful to anyone, but especially non-native English speakers. What a great idea. Also,since there are times when the text-to-speech synthesizer in a screen reader program doesn’t get the pronunciation exactly right, having the Word Web audio as verification could be a lifesaver.
Get it here: Word Web