January 13, 2017

Making Your Computer Work for You: Colours, Voice, and Seeing

In the 'Making your computer work for you' series, Stephen Kuntz, Associate Director of Writing Resources at the Student Success Centre, shares the features of your computer that can make writing and studying easier.

The word “revise” literally means “to see again.” So part of the revising process is to reexamine your writing using a different approach to really “see” the issues you may be having with your writing. The computer can help you do this. How? Use colours. Why colours? Colours are visual and although they don’t communicate content, they can relay other aspects of your writing.

Here is how you can use colour to help you really “see” your writing.
  • Highlight all your quotations in one colour.
  • Choose a different colour and highlight all your paraphrases.
  • In some cases, you might use a third colour to highlight facts, plot, or summary.
  • Now shrink the screen size so you can’t read your writing, but you can “see” your writing in a new way.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself when using this approach:
  • How much of your writing is coloured?
    • Too much and you are probably lacking a voice and presence in your writing.
    • Too little, and perhaps you are lacking support and/or evidence.
  • Where is the coloured text primarily located?
    • If in the beginning, you might be setting up your paragraphs poorly.
    • If at the end of your paragraphs, you might not be “unpacking” things enough or closing the paragraph well.
    • In either case, you may be minimizing your own intellectual presence in the paper.