The Up-Goer Five text editor

For some of us, writing is hard. Theo Sanderson has decided that it’s not quite hard enough and has created the “Up-Goer Five” text editor.

The name comes from a xkcd cartoon about a diagram of the Saturn V Rocket but explained using only the “ten hundred” words English speakers use most – thus, “The Up-Goer Five”.

Sanderson’s text editor lets you write about a topic of your choosing but it alerts you when you use “non-permitted words” in the applet’s text field.

Give it a try – Sanderson says it gave him “increased clarity” in his writing. It just made me even more frustrated with the writing process.



  • Steven Fisher

    You know, I can see this being useful. Not to utterly avoid words not in the top thousand, but just to give me a better idea what they are and consider their use more carefully.

    There are times that it’s good or even necessary to pick a “better” word, but I think sticking to these words probably makes the eye pick up the words more easily. It would let me use better words for emphasis.

    But I think the top thousand is probably TOO limiting. I wonder what happens as you widen it: one thousand, two thousand, five thousand… at what point are you writing almost naturally?

    Anyway, it’s a very interesting link. Thanks, Shawn.

  • http://twitter.com/Moeskido Moeskido

    Nope. I choose words for euphony and meter as well as meaning. This app would cut me down to the New York Post’s reading level.

  • http://twitter.com/freelancery Walt Kania

    Nice idea. But ‘most used’ words may be the wrong measuring stick.

    I think ‘most understood’ or ‘easiest to understand’ is better.

    In my sample, the tool ejected the word ‘pile’. Not used everyday, but everybody gets it. It is easily pictured. It is concrete and real.

    It ejected the word ‘accountant’. It ejected the words stone, slap, and goat. Who the hell wouldn’t understand those?

    Use nouns and verbs that refer to real things, and you’ll be okay.

    But it was a fun exercise, which I think was the point