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WhiteSmoke is a tool to help you create documents and make the writing more interesting to read. The key word is ‘enrichment’-if you choose to install the toolbar that WhiteSmoke provides, this is the word that appears. Text enrichment is what the software delivers. WhiteSmoke takes your text and suggests alternative words and, where appropriate, adjectives, you could insert. The aim is to brighten up what you write. The style is international and it will accept transatlantic spellings.

It does the basics of fixing grammar and spelling rather as your existing word-processor’s spell-checker will do. It then goes beyond the checkers built into the likes of MS Word by suggesting possible adjectives to add. It takes a few minutes to get used to the colour-coding, but once you have mastered that you can change and insert words and phrases. You can invoke the checker by pressing the F2 key.

The suggestions cannot be followed without some thought. In one document WhiteSmoke offered a single alternative for the word ‘court’. It proposed changing ‘court’ to ‘woo’. This would have produced the expression ‘Chinese woo official’ instead of ‘Chinese court official’. So you must pay attention when making substitutions. This is not intended as a criticism. WhiteSmoke comes up with a lot of suggestions – some work, some don’t. It makes you think about what you are writing.

If you have to write a load of emails, there are dozens of templates provided based around a range of personal and business topics. You just select the most appropriate text, make the adjustments, run WhiteSmoke to check the document and hit Send. I found this very useful for the many semi-standard emails business requires, and I looked to see if I could edit these templates or add my own, but could not find that facility. This is designed as an office tool because it requires you to be on-line, so you will have to wait till the laptop is connected to the web before you can use the facilities.

The cost is $79.95, about £45 or €66. There is a 30 day money-back guarantee. It was easy to download and install. WhiteSmoke is quite ‘pushy’ so it is easy to find on the toolbar and screen, where it installs itself. It also behaves itself and can be uninstalled using the control panel on your PC. Only one glitch was encountered when WhiteSmoke was shut down mid-sentence but control of the cursor was quickly restored by saving the document. WhiteSmoke sulked and refused to offer any suggestions until the system re-booted but then returned to normal.

So, if you are looking for a tool to improve your productivity writing business emails and short letters, WhiteSmoke has a great deal to offer. It will provide you with templates that will save typing time and then prompt you with numerous suggestions to extend and enhance the words employed. In this context, it is easy and fun to use. However, it is not the tool to use for your novel when you have already crafted the words.

See also: Attaché software, Muse names, review newnovelist, Storybase, writers blocks software