First things first: No automatic editing tool can ever take the place of a human – nothing is better than a professional editor who understands the natural flow of language and has a strong grasp of grammar and punctuation.
That being said, if you’re the human who does the editing and you want to take a last pass over your work, or if the human who does the editing is unavailable and you absolutely need to send something out, there are several helpful options available online.
EditMinion (Does this make you envision the cute yellow guys from Despicable Me? Just us? Ok, then …) finds spelling errors, incorrectly used words, and other common writing errors, including passive voice and overly complex sentences. It also tells you which words you used most frequently, your average sentence length, and the longest sentence. (We’re not 100% sure why you’d need those things, but they’re available!)
EditMinion is free.
Grammarly, like other online editors, catches spelling mistakes, passive voice, faulty parallelism, and more. It also offers synonyms for overly used words, catches “unusual word pairs,” lets you know when sentences are too complex, and can check for plagiarism (in the paid version). Grammarly can be used from its website as an online app; it also offers free extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and an app for both iOS and Android.
Grammarly has both free and paid versions.
The Hemingway App is an online editor that handles all the usual suspects when it comes to editing your writing – its appeal comes from its easy-to-read large font size, aesthetically pleasing bright colors, and color-coded highlighting. In addition, it rates the “readability” – based on grade level – of your writing to let you know if you’re getting too complex. (Aim for a 3rd- to 5th-grade reading level to reach the broadest audience.)
The Hemingway App is free.
Online grammar checker Slick Write, as those above, edits for spelling, punctuation, adverbs, passive voice, awkward phrasing, etc. The biggest draw for Slick Write is its customizability – you can choose which types of errors you want the software to find, including options for professional versus casual writing. It also offers individual tabs to isolate issues, which makes editing less overwhelming.
Slick Write is free.
After the Deadline
After the Deadline catches your spelling errors, misused words, tortured syntax, and passive voice; it also seeks and destroys clichés, redundancy, and non-parallelisms. After the Deadline then offers a brief explanation as to why something is an error as well as suggestions for fixing it.
After the Deadline is free. (We DO NOT, however, suggest waiting until ‘after the deadline’ to utilize it!)
Imagine having a magic editing wand – with just a flick of your wrist, all the editing that stands between you and publishing your content would be done, and done perfectly. Unfortunately, no such magic wand exists, and the editing must be done manually. Fortunately, there are automatic editing tools to help.
Notice we said HELP. Automatic editing tools are designed to make editing easier – not to eliminate the work entirely. If you look back at our last blog about editing, with its example of content from before and after the editor did their job, you’ll see a major difference. Running that content through one of the above editing tools, however, only offers three changes, which isn’t enough to make the content more readable.
So use the automatic editing tools, but don’t fire your editor!