Words to Avoid in Tech Writing: Vim Plugin

Words to avoid

Wynn Netherland amended his vimrc to highlight words to avoid in tech writing. The snippet looks like this:

" Highlight words to avoid in tech writing
" =======================================
" obviously, basically, simply, of course, clearly,
" just, everyone knows, However, So, easy

" http://css-tricks.com/words-avoid-educational-writing/

highlight TechWordsToAvoid ctermbg=red ctermfg=white

function MatchTechWordsToAvoid()
  match TechWordsToAvoid /\c\<\(obviously\|basically\|simply\|of\scourse\|clearly\|just\|everyone\sknows\|however\|so,\|easy\)\>/

autocmd FileType markdown call MatchTechWordsToAvoid()
autocmd BufWinEnter *.md call MatchTechWordsToAvoid()
autocmd InsertEnter *.md call MatchTechWordsToAvoid()
autocmd InsertLeave *.md call MatchTechWordsToAvoid()
autocmd BufWinLeave *.md call clearmatches()

The MatchTechWordsToAvoid function is called whenever a Markdown file is opened. The match command takes a regular expression and matches the unwanted phrases that we can't help writing. The first argument to match can be used with highlight, so you can apply different highlights to different matches. In this case the background colour is set to red, so the unwanted words clearly stand out.

It uses autocmd to listen for events like starting Insert mode and entering a buffer to either show or hide the matches. The clearmatches function clears the highlights that were previously added by match.

You could use this approach to highlight anything, and different highlights could be applied by grouping them with group names.

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