How to Detect ChatGPT-Written Articles

Do you have suspicions that a lot of the content you are consuming is being written by a machine rather than a human?

Or maybe you are a content creator yourself and you want to make it harder for your readers to spot the use of AI in your work.

The obvious thing to do is paste a piece of content into any of the countless AI detection tools on the web and see what the verdict is. But the problem with this method is they all say different things, and users often report false positives.

Whether you read articles or publish them, the following red flags will help you gauge the likelihood that an article was written by ChatGPT.

1. Short headings

If you’re reading an article and notice that all the headings are short – say a maximum of three or four words – there is a good chance it was produced entirely by ChatGPT.

Using full-length sentences in headings and subheadings is really effective for conveying key information to the reader. But ChatGPT finds it challenging to generate full-sentence headings.

2. Random combinations

ChatGPT also likes to combine two items in the same heading from time to time, which is a strange thing to do for certain types of articles, such as listicles. Take “Bedroom decor ideas” as an example, which will be given headings like this:

  1. Cushions
  2. Candles
  3. Paintings and Decals

Any logically-minded human would allocate one item per heading, so that paintings and decals are given their own sections (after all, they are two different kinds of decor) but not ChatGPT!

3. Common AI phrases in the introduction

This one is a pretty big tell-tale sign of AI-generated articles and it also has wider ramifications for indexing and ranking in Google, so pay close attention if you’re somebody who publishes AI articles.

ChatGPT has a really bad habit of using the same phrases in the same locations when writing an article. This includes phrases like “In this article, we’ll explore…” and “In this comprehensive guide…”

If you put out an article with either of the above phrases in the introduction, it will instantly be flagged by Google because your content is identical to millions of other AI-written articles.

We’ve been tracking ChatGPT’s favorite phrases and you may find our ‘blacklist’ useful for keeping your content as original and human-sounding as possible.

4. Common AI words

It’s pretty much a given that you’re reading a ChatGPT-written article if it contains the chatbot’s favorite words.

“Elevate” and “delve” are perhaps the worst culprits, with the former often appearing in titles, headings and subheadings. If you use AI for your own content production, then make sure to blacklist these words along with the common phrases.

5. Colons in lists

The final giveaway that a piece of content is a copy & paste job from a generative AI tool is in the formatting.

If you ask ChatGPT to write a guide to SEO, it will inevitably include a list that looks something like this:

  • Keyword Research Tools: Discover powerful tools for identifying relevant keywords and assessing their search volume and competition.
  • Long-Tail Keywords: Learn how to leverage long-tail keywords to target specific niches and capture high-intent traffic.
  • Competitor Analysis: Analyze competitor keywords and strategies to identify opportunities and refine your own SEO strategy.

Each item is often highlighted in bold, and then ChatGPT likes to throw in a colon to expand upon each point. There’s nothing inherently wrong with presenting lists in this fashion, but it has become ChatGPT’s signature style and therefore easily identified as AI content.

Sometimes ChatGPT does too much expanding and the list becomes an ugly wall of text — If you come across such poor formatting then I would suggest the person publishing it isn’t even trying to hide the fact they are using AI.

Final thoughts

The fact that all these AI detection tools claim to be highly sophisticated and trained on the patterns of human writing means nothing if they can’t actually determine with pinpoint accuracy whether an article was written by ChatGPT or not.

But that doesn’t matter, because it’s possible to spot AI content manually, so long as you know what to look for in terms of the content and formatting.