About ClicheCleaner 1.0

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ClicheCleaner is a program that helps you write better, by highlighting passages in your text that are either cliches, other overly-used common expressions, or phrases of your own that you have repeatedly used within the same document.

ClicheCleaner includes a list of nearly 7000 unique cliches and common expressions that are compared against your text. However the actual number of phrases compared against totals over 16,000 counting all the variations. For example, when searching for the cliche "lose one's shirt," the various verb forms lose, lost, and losing are all checked, as well as his, her, my and your being substituted for "one's". That's 15 different versions of just this one cliche!

Just what is a cliche? Defining a cliche is somewhat like trying to define pornography -- to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Stewart's famous remark, "I know one when I see one." One definition of a cliche is a clever expression that has lost its freshness from overuse. Not all popular phrases are cliches; for example, "killing two birds with one stone" is a cliche; "killing time" is merely a common phrase. Both are included in ClicheCleaner's list of cliches and common expressions.

One of the criteria I used when selecting phrases for the list is whether, when hearing the first half of an expression, I knew immediately what the second half was going to be. For example, if I say "If the shoe fits," most people would automatically add "wear it". This is even exploited by some writers, who will just give the first part of a hackneyed phrase, e.g. "A bird in the hand…" and let the reader supply the rest.

Most of the common phrases are several words long, but I have included a couple of one-word entries -- "basically" and "hopefully" -- since the use of either of these should probably be reviewed.

Are all cliches bad? The cliche has been described as the "bad guy of the English language." Even so, many of us use cliches when speaking -- it's often a quick way of making a point without having to stop and think up something more original. However when writing, when you have time to be more creative, you should avoid using a cliche or other common expression unless it is the best way of saying what needs to be said. There was a book out a while back titled "If You Can Talk, You Can Write" (Joel Saltzman, Warner Books, 1993). I would add, "But don't always write like you talk" (unless you're writing dialogue).

Repeated phrases. Everyone has a unique writing style and their own way of expressing themselves. But however clever or original a phrase may be, if a writer uses the same witty saying -- or even a part of it -- again in the same document, the reader experiences literary déjà vu and the original impact is greatly diminished. That is where the second half of ClicheCleaner's capability comes into play. It examines your entire document, and looks for all repeated phrases of three or more words (three-word phrases are listed only if they don't begin or end with one of the 150 most common English words).


ClicheCleaner runs on any version of Windows (95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7). The minimum recommended configuration for ClicheCleaner is a 1 GHz processor with 512 MB of RAM running Windows XP. A faster processor and/or more RAM are highly recommended, particularly if you are going to be scanning long documents.


Like most text editors, ClicheCleaner starts up with an empty window ready for you to type into. However most of the time you will want to open an existing file using the Open… command under the File menu (or, if you have recently opened the file in ClicheCleaner, selecting it from the recent file list in the File menu).

Scanning. Once you have opened a file, the next step is to scan the file for cliches, common expressions, and repeated phrases using the Scan for Cliche/Common/Repeated Phrases command under the Cliches menu. (You can also click on the yellow magnifying-glass button in the toolbar to start scanning.) During the scan, an hourglass cursor will be displayed. The duration of this process will depend on the length of the document and the speed of your computer -- scanning a short story should only take a few seconds on most computers, while scanning a hundred page document might take a minute or so.

I don't recommend scanning more then 20 or 30 pages at a time, as you may end up with too many repeated phrases to check over. It's better to scan book-length manuscripts several chapters at a time in an overlapping fashion -- e.g. chapters 1-5, then 3-7, etc. (If there is enough demand, I may automate this process in a future version.)

Displaying the list of phrases found. Once the scan is complete, the first instance of a cliche or common or repeated phrase is automatically highlighted in your text.

If you select Show List of Cliche/Common/Repeated Phrases List from the Cliches menu, a list box will be displayed with all of the cliches, common, and repeated phrases found. (You can also display this list by clicking on the list button, just to the right of the scan button in the toolbar.)

After each cliche or phrase displayed in the list, there will be some context showing where it was found in your document:

       (c) the apple of his eye
              said that it was {the apple of his eye}; but I returned it sharper than I received it. It was a

In this example, the (c) indicates the phrase is a cliche or common phrase found in ClicheCleaner's list of 16,000 phrases. The line following it includes the reference inside curly braces {}'s. (The reference is that portion of the text that matched the cliche or common phrase.)

If the words matched are a repeated phrase not found in the list of cliches and common expressions, an (r) is displayed instead. In the list of repeated phrases, references that are the same as a repeated phrase, but missing the first or last word, are also displayed. For example, if the phrase "after a few minutes" is repeated twice or more in the document, then any other instances of "a few minutes" or "after a few" will also be flagged since they are so similar.

You can double-click on one of the references (actually anywhere on the line, not just between the curly braces) to immediately jump to that point in the document. The phrase will be selected (highlighted in black), allowing you to easily delete it with the Delete key and substitute something else if you wish. Once you have edited a phrase, it will no longer be highlighted if you jump to it, but the cursor will be positioned at the beginning of the original phrase.

Whether or not you first displayed the list in the dialog box, you can jump ahead to the next reference using the Next Cliche/Phrase Reference command in the Cliches menu, or by typing Ctrl+N (or Ctrl+Down-Arrow), or by clicking on the > button. You can jump back to the previous reference using the Prev Cliche/Phrase Reference command in the Cliches menu, or by typing Ctrl+P (or Ctrl+Up-Arrow), or by clicking on the < button.

You can jump ahead to the next phrase (skipping any remaining references to the current phrase) using the Next Cliche/Phrase command in the Cliches menu, or by typing Shift+Ctrl+N (or Ctrl+Page-Down), or by clicking on the >> button. You can jump back to the previous phrase using the Prev Cliche/Phrase command in the Cliches menu, or by typing Shift+Ctrl+P (or Ctrl+Page-Up), or by clicking on the << button.

Other features. In addition to finding cliches and common and repeated phrases, ClicheCleaner is also a versatile text editor with the usual editing commands such as cut, copy and paste and search and replace. You can have more than one file open at a time, and switch between them using by selecting the appropriate filename from the Windows menu. (If you would rather have each file visible in its own window, select Cascade or Tile from the Windows menu.) Scan results are kept separate for each file, so as you switch back and forth between files, the program remembers the current list for each one.


Whom can I contact for assistance? Email comments, questions, or bug reports to: tech@softwest.com Please include the version of ClicheCleaner you are using (displayed in the Help... About ClicheCleaner dialog), and the version of Windows (XP/Vista/7/8) you are running. If the program displayed an error message, also include the text of the error message in your email.

How do I remove the program from my computer? On the left side of the task bar, click on the "Start" button; then select "Setting", then select the "Control Panel". Once the Control Panel window appears, select "Add/Remove Programs". Select "ClicheCleaner" from the list, and click on the "Add/Remove" button.