Monday, 23 April 2018
Manuscript editing software programs do much more than the built-in spelling and grammar checkers in your word processor. Some offer “first-pass” or “last-pass” editing to clean up mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation; others make suggestions for improving your language.
These programs can alert you to overuse of adverbs, clichés, redundancies, overlong sentences, sticky sentences, glue words, vague and abstract words, diction, and the misuse of dialog tags, to name just a few. In alphabetical order, here are some of my favorites (this is by no means an exhaustive list).
is well organized and offers a lot of information in a clean interface. In my writing, it revealed an excess of generic descriptions, passive voice, and too many initial pronouns, names, and “ing” words. I also use too many “ly” adverbs. On the plus side, I’m great at showing and not telling, and I don’t repeat words and phrases or use a lot of filler words or clichés.
All these were easy fixes once I was made aware of them. But hey, if you’re feeling depressed about your errors, just click the “compare to fiction” tab to show how your writing stacks up against published works, including mass-market paperbacks and bestsellers. It might make you feel better.
The manuscript analysis provides a lot of constructive criticism in a clean, easy-to-read layout. I like the visual charts representing sentence length and paragraph pace, too.
This will find the mistakes your spelling and grammar checkers don’t see, such as inconsistent hyphenation (part time vs. part-time) and spelling (color vs. colour). It also finds things like numerals in the middle of sentences, compound words, and abbreviations that appear in different forms.
It does not check spelling and grammar, just consistency. Note: this is the freemium version of the $99 for Microsoft Office 2013 and Google Docs.
It targets long nonfiction document like proposals, grants, and how-to manuals. Install Consistency Checker in Word by visiting the . To install it in Google Docs, , log in and click “Free,” then run Google Docs and Consistency Checker will be in the “Add-ons” menu.
is a writing, editing, collaboration, and publishing tool you access online using your browser. Each contributor’s changes show up in different colors, with “accept” and “reject” options. You can mark major revisions, find and revert to previous versions, import docs from Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive, and publish directly to places like WordPress, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and even MailChimp. They’ve provided a handy Chrome extension that lets you turn any text area on the web into something you can write and edit with Draft. You can even hire a human editor via the program.
You can email a document to your Draft account and create a simple presentation, then select segments of writing and the “simplify” robot catches common words and duplicate words and attempts to detect and delete unimportant sentences. More features include an audio-video transcription tool, analytics, and a website builder tool. “Hemingway Mode” provides distraction-free writing.
Draft is free, but donations unlock more benefits.
is my favorite electronic editor. It delivers information both line-by-line and in summary form. I like the way it follows me around the web to check my blog posts, my Google Docs, Gmail, and comments and feedback forms on other people’s blog posts and articles.
Like most robust editing tools, Grammarly offers settings for various kinds of writing: business documents, novels, creative nonfiction, medical, technical, and casual. A basic version of Grammarly that roots out spelling and grammar errors is free, while the full version is $29.95/month. If you need a human editor, quick, you can reach one through their site for a reasonable price.
is a distraction-free writing tool that displays a row of formatting elements across the top for bold, italics, bulleting, numbering, headings, and links. Slide it from “Write” into “Edit” mode and you’ll get a clean, visual take on what might be wrong with your writing. The word and character counters are also very handy.
The browser-based version of the Hemingway app is free, and with the desktop app for Mac and Windows ($19.99), you can import and export your text to Word and export as HTML or Markdown language for your blogging platform, WordPress, or CMS files.