The 3 Best Editing Tools to Make Your Writing Better
Let’s face it. No one’s perfect.
And your writing certainly isn’t. Or more accurately, your first draft isn’t.
That’s why editing is so critical. It’s in the editing stage that you polish and refine your writing.
Today I’m going to share the best editing tools. Because you shouldn’t have to go down the editing path alone when there’s some pretty impressive software that can help you.
“The world’s most accurate grammar checker.”
Grammarly checks your grammar, spelling (plus contextual spelling) and punctuation.
The contextual spelling is super handy, because most spell checks on your computer only check if the spelling is correct and not whether you’ve used it in the right context. For example, right and write are both spelt correctly. But if I said “in the write context” that’d be oh-so-wrong, and Grammarly would let me know.
Grammarly checks up to 250 grammar rules. Plus, it’ll also call out words you’ve used repetitively, and overused words – such as ‘awesome’.
- Free to use for basic checks in your browser and the native desktop app, or
- US$139.95 per year for the premium version (watch out for specials throughout the year and you might get it cheaper)
The premium version opens up an extra 100 grammar checks, for a total of 250 checks.
You can use it in your browser, and it’ll also check your writing pretty much anywhere you write if you install the browser extension (Facebook, forums, etc.).You can download the native app for Mac and Windows. If you use Windows, you can also install an extension for Office.
You can download the native app for Mac and Windows. If you use Windows, you can also install an extension for Office.
Why I love it
Grammarly’s brilliant for checking your comma usage. It’ll suggest when you need one, and when you don’t. Commas are often the greatest source of confusion for people, so it’s great to know Grammarly’s got your back.
With each mistake or revision Grammarly suggests, it adds some great background for you so you can learn more about the grammar rule at play.
With the premium version, you can also check for plagiarism. That’s perfect if you’re publishing to the web so you won’t get hit with Google penalties for duplicate content.
I have the premium version and use the native app on my Mac. I run everything I write – from client work to my blog posts – through Grammarly before anyone else lays eyes on it. I use it almost every single day.
What I don’t like
Like any editing software, it doesn’t always get it right. My biggest peeve is when Grammarly tells me I have an “incomplete comparison” – when my sentence isn’t comparing a darn thing.
You just have to remember that you’re the human. You wrote the piece. And if you were going for a particular effect that only your human or writer brain can see, then you need to ignore Grammarly’s suggestions (after careful consideration, of course!)
“Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear.”
Hemingway App checks five areas of your writing:
- Hard to read sentences (long sentences)
- Very hard to read sentences (extra long sentences)
- Words/phrases with simpler alternatives
- Passive voice
The app also gives you:
- Word count
- Readability + grade level
Free to use in your browser. Or US$14.95 for the desktop app.
The desktop app is available for Mac and Windows.
Why I love it
Hemingway App calls out words and phrases that have a simpler alternative, and suggests the simpler alternatives! For example, if you say “minimise” the word is highlighted in purple, and when you hover over it the app will suggest “cut”.
Note that suggestions for simpler words or phrases are the only suggestions the app makes. As for the rest, the app only highlights the other areas for you to address (colour coded for easy identification).
I use Hemingway App (browser version only) to check all my writing after I’ve run it through Grammarly. I like to use it as my final check, mostly because it calls out the hard and very hard to read sentences. It’s my final proofread to tighten up my prose.
What I don’t like
There’s not much about this app (web version) that frustrates me. It’s a great tool for proofreading your writing. As it only makes suggestions for simpler words or phrases, there’s not much to ignore (if you don’t like what it suggests!)
If the app highlights long sentences but you can’t see any way around it, then you can just move on. Easy!
TEXT TO SPEECH
Text to Speech is a built-in feature I only recently discovered on my Mac. Here are the instructions to set it up.
(You can set Windows to read your text, too. Note that my comments below about certain features – like choosing voice and accent – relate to the Mac.)
Why I love it
One of the best editing techniques is to read your work out loud as it helps you identify which parts of your writing sound laboured. But sometimes I feel ridiculous doing that. Reading out loud to myself in my home office? Have me committed right now!
Or you’re working in a place where you can’t read your work out loud (hello co-working or cafes!)
This text-to-speech function solves all these problems. Thank gosh for earphones!
Plus, you can pick the accent you want and a female or male voice. Sometimes it’s cool to listen to your piece in an American or British accent.
And the Australian accent doesn’t sound too terrible, which is surprising and appreciated!
What I don’t like
Those accents can be grating some days. And it’s not an entirely natural reading of your piece (which can be both good and bad).
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT: THE BEST EDITING TOOLS
I use these three tools to edit my writing every day. It never hurts to get a little more perspective, especially if you work solo.
Give one or all these tools a whirl to see which works best for you. I use them all, but I’m a writer so I go nuts over anything that’ll help me write better.
But be careful, though. Just because Grammarly or Hemingway App suggest an edit or calls out a mistake, doesn’t mean you need to action it. It’s just software – and sometimes it gets it wrong.
I get a small commission if you buy Grammarly when you click the link in this post. I use the premium version every day, so I swear by it. If you prefer, you can navigate to the Grammarly site via a search engine.