A Thing Explainer word checker

Want to try writing using only simple words? Here’s a writing checker you can use: xkcd.com/simplewriter.

To help me write the words in my Up Goer Five picture, I taught my computer to watch my writing and tell me when one of the words I used wasn’t in the top ten hundred. After I put up my Up Goer picture, other people made things to check writing, too (like this one).

When I decided to write Thing Explainer, I went back to the writing checker I had used and made it better. Now, I’m happy to be able to share it with everyone!

To use it, just touch here and start writing. If you use a word that’s not in Thing Explainer’s set of the ten hundred, the word will turn red. (I usually count all forms of a word, like “kick” and “kicked,” together as one word, although there are a few special cases where I don’t.)

Have fun explaining things!

A note on the words: Some words are used more often in certain kinds of writing and talking than in others, which means different ways of counting words will give different answers for which ones we use the most. The set of ten hundred words in Thing Explainer comes from putting together many ways of counting how much people use a word to come up with a single set of ten hundred words that should sound familiar and simple to lots of people. 

Thank you to James Zetlen, who helped make the word checker work on other people’s computers and not just mine.

I’m going on a book trip!

I made a book that explains things. It’s called Thing Explainer. It will be out soon! It’s a big flat book full of pictures of things with lots of parts. There are also little words that tell you what all the parts do. You can read more about it here!

When my book comes out in two months, I’m going to visit a lot of places with it! I’m going to New York, Seattle and Portland, San Francisco and Berkeley, Houston, Chicago and Naperville, and Toronto. If you live near one of those cities, maybe you can come see me!

In each city I visit, I’ll be standing in a big room and talking to people. I’ll also be writing my name in people’s books, but only if they want me to.

blag_words

Here’s how you can come see me in each city. (This part doesn’t use simple words, but that’s because I like the people whose buildings I’m visiting and don’t want to make problems by using different words from the ones on their signs and stuff.)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24
NEW YORK, NY
BARNES & NOBLE UNION SQUARE | 6:00pm
33 E 17th Street
Note: A limited number of wristbands and seats will be available to those who provide proof of purchase of Thing Explainer from a Barnes & Noble retail location or BN.COM. For details, click here.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30
SEATTLE, WA
TOWN HALL SEATTLE AT THE GREAT HALL | 7:30pm
In Conversation with Hank Green
1119 8th Avenue
Tickets: $5 includes admission. Seating is limited. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Zeno: Math Powered. To purchase tickets and for details, click here.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1
BEAVERTON, OR
POWELL’S BOOKS AT CEDAR HILLS CROSSING | 5:00pm
3415 SW Cedar Hills Boulevard
Note: Book signing only. Purchase of Thing Explainer from Powell’s is required for admission. Space is limited. For details, click here.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
THE BOOKSMITH AT THE RICKSHAW STOP | 7:00pm
155 Fell Street
Tickets: $35 includes one book and admission. Seating is limited. To purchase tickets and for details, click here.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3
BERKELEY, CA
BERKELEY ARTS & LETTERS | 7:00pm
First Congregational Church
2345 Channing Way
Tickets: $35 includes one book and admission. Seating is limited. To purchase tickets and for details, click here.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 7
HOUSTON, TX
SPACE CENTER HOUSTON | 11:00am
1601 NASA Parkway
Tickets: Free with the price of admission to Space Center Houston. Seating is limited to those who RSVP here. To purchase tickets and for more information about Space Center Houston, click here.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9
NAPERVILLE, IL
NAPERVILLE READS | 7:00pm
North Central College at Pfeiffer Hall
310 E Benton Avenue
Tickets: Free, but required for admission. Seating is limited. To get tickets and details from Anderson’s Bookshop, click here.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10
CHICAGO, IL
ILLINOIS SCIENCE COUNCIL AT 1871 | 6:00pm
222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza
Tickets: $43 includes one book and admission. Seating is limited. To purchase tickets and for details, click here.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11
TORONTO, ON
INDIGO BOOKS & MUSIC AT THE ISABEL BADER THEATER | 6:30pm
In Conversation with Ryan North
93 Charles Street W
Tickets: $40 includes one book and admission. Seating is limited. To purchase tickets and for details, click here.

Other places

Can’t make any of these events, but still want a signed copy? A limited quantity of signed Thing Explainers are available to pre-order from Harvard Bookstore, Porter Square Books, and Brookline Booksmith.

Already pre-ordered your copy? Email your proof of pre-order for the print edition of Thing Explainer—either a copy of your e-receipt or photo of print receipt—and mailing address to trademarketing@hmhco.com by November 15, 2015 and you’ll be entered to win one of 300 signed bookplates, which look like this:

TE bookplate

Winners will be chosen at random. Winners will be notified and bookplates will ship the week of November 23, 2015. (U.S. participants only—sorry!)