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Help for Drivel Defence for Text

DrivelDefenceText 1v0. Application © 2006 J Rugg

A to Z of Alternative Words © 2001 Plain English Campaign.

What DrivelDefenceText is for

DrivelDefenceText will help authors assess their writing for Plain English as part of a general effort to improve accessibility. If you are mainly interested in checking web pages, look at the associated product DrivelDefenceWeb.

DrivelDefenceText is freeware and must not be sold.

What DrivelDefenceText will do

DrivelDefenceText will:

  • report the length of individual sentences in text,
  • work out the average sentence length from text,
  • suggest possible substitutions of words, based on the Plain English Campaign publication 'A to Z of Alternative Words'.

What DrivelDefenceText will not do

DrivelDefenceText will not:

  • analyse anything other than plain text,
  • check spelling,
  • check grammar,
  • make any changes to plain text.


DrivelDefenceText is written as a web page, and runs within a web browser.

  • DrivelDefenceText contains JavaScript. So, your web browser needs to be configured to allow JavaScript to run.
  • DrivelDefenceText needs to open a new window when it is running. So, your web browser needs to be configured to allow popup windows.
  • DrivelDefenceText uses the Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Document Object Model (DOM). It will run on browsers that support this DOM. (Recent browsers should be OK).
  • DrivelDefenceText will work best where:
    • the text is unstructured prose (for instance no headings or bullet points), and
    • where care has been taken over the proper ending of sentences with full stops.
  • You can run DrivelDefenceText by downloading it to your local disk, or you can run it from the Plain English Campaign website.


  • English is a complicated subject. There will be cases where DrivelDefenceText will not correctly identify possible word substitutions, or correctly find the ends of sentences.
  • DrivelDefenceText will attempt to recognise common abbreviations (such as ie., eg., etc., pm., am., St., Rd., Co.) and not interpret the full stop as the end of a sentence. As detection of a sentence end requires a full stop followed by a space or line break, web addresses should be correctly dealt with.
  • If DrivelDefenceText identifies a long sentence, or a potential alternative word, it does not mean you must change it. It is simply intended to be a tool to highlight possible areas of improvement. You must use your judgement.

Using DrivelDefenceText

Step 1: Paste in the plain text to analyse

The text you may want to check will typically have been prepared in another application, eg. a word processor. Select the text from that application and copy it to the clipboard. Then, paste it into DrivelDefenceText. You can paste in extra text, or edit the text until you are happy.

This text will be analysed and a report produced, based upon the report preferences that you set:

  • Report sentences. The report on the page will include the calculated length of sentences detected in purple italics. Either all sentences can be reported (useful to record the totality of what was checked), or just those with sentences of length 20 or more words.
  • Report possible alternative words. Ticking this box will cause detected sentences to be examined for possibly helpful word substitutions, using the Plain English Campaign publication 'A to Z of Alternative Words'. Possible substitutions are shown in red bold text.

Step 2: Analyse the plain text and act on the findings

Clicking the 'Analyse' button will cause the plain text to be examined and reported in line with the settings made during Step 1. The report will open in a new browser window, and is itself a web page. Items are reported in the order in which they appear in the original web page. The report can be printed using the 'Print' button at the top of the report. If you want to keep a file copy of the report (for instance to e-mail to someone), you will need to do this manually. This is because JavaScript will not allow files to be saved automatically. To save the file:

  • right click(PC)/ ctrl click (Mac) in the report window,
  • choose the 'View page source' option from the popup menu,
  • choose 'Save file as' from the browser menu bar. Save the file with a .htm extension.

DrivelDefenceText will not make any changes to the examined text. It is up to you to use the report to make any changes to the text in its originating application (for instance a word processor). Note however that the average sentence length for a page is expected to be between 15 and 20 words. See the Plain English Campaign guide 'How to write in plain English'.

To analyse more text, click the DrivelDefenceText 'Reset' button. This will close all previously opened windows and reset the contents of the form.


 'Your browser does not have scripting enabled. To use DrivelDefenceText, you must enable scripting'.

This message will appear at the top of the DrivelDefenceText page. DrivelDefenceText uses JavaScript, and will not work unless your browser is set up to allow JavaScript to run. Check your browser security settings. Once you have enabled JavaScript, reload the DrivelDefenceText page and you will no longer see this message.

'Warning: extracted text does not end in a complete sentence'

When you click the 'Analyse' button, normally a dialog box will appear telling you how many characters and sentences have been extracted from the entered text. Sometimes however, this may also be supplemented by 'Warning: extracted text does not end in a complete sentence. It ends with the following sentence fragment, which will not be included in the analysis: ....'. This means that the entered text contains words at its end that do not form a complete sentence (eg. because there is no final full stop). You will need to end the sentence properly to prevent getting this warning, and to make sure that the text is included in the analysis.

'Warning: Unresponsive Script'

This can sometimes occur if you are analysing a large amount of text, or have asked for more things to be included in a page report. The browser realises that the page script has been running for a while, and thinks something may have gone wrong. Continue to run the script and it should finish successfully.

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