Sometimes, I’ll do intensive reading on the computer, so as to make it a bit quicker – I have quick access to my software dictionaries, grammar websites, and the like. When doing this in the past, I’ve generally copied and pasted any words and expressions I didn’t know into a text document, so I could look them up after reading the article. The only downside to this was the constant flipping back and forth between what I was reading and the text document – lots of alt-tabbing, in other words. I figured out a geeky way to avoid doing this, which I thought might be of interest to some people.
It’s basically a bit like highlighting words on a page, and then magically pulling all of those words off the page to instantly put them in a list, at which point you can do whatever it is you want to do – add definitions to the list, look them up and add them to Anki, etc.
Here’s how to do it (and please note, unless someone knows a workaround, you’ll need Microsoft Word near the end):
1. Take whatever you want to read, copy it, and paste it into a word processing app. Google Docs will work fine for the initial steps.
3. Go through the article, select any word you want to grab, and underline it (Ctrl+U). You can also bold it, or change it to a particular color. You can use whatever you want as your word marker as long as you’re consistent.
4. Unfortunately, there’s only one program that I’ve found so far that does the next step easily: Microsoft Word. I’m using Microsoft Word 2007; I’m not sure if older versions of the program have the option needed. For the fourth step, copy your marked up text and paste it into Word. Then, select one of your underlined words, then use Select Text with Similar Formatting.
This will select all of the words you marked up.
5. Copy the selected text in Word, and then paste into your word processor of choice (I usually head back to Google Docs at this point).
Rather than the words showing up in a list, they’re automatically formatted in a list, one word / expression per line.
Hopefully, this is a bit easier and quicker than highlighting a word, copying it, going to your text editor, pasting it, and then going back to your article.
(If anyone knows of an open source application that has an option like Word’s “Select Text with Similar Formatting,” please let me know; I checked out Open Office’s Find and Replace options, and didn’t see anything that worked.)