Automated help in editing material intrigues most writers. I looked at six online automated editing tools. I chose the ones that were free or had free options, hoping to buy one that fit my budget and editing needs.
For a nice overview of free and for-sale editing tools, I recommend “INSTANTLY IMPROVE YOUR WRITING WITH THESE 11 EDITING TOOLS” on the NY Book Editors blog.
My Approach to Evaluating Automated Editing Tools
I entered the same excerpt from an old unpublished manuscript into the free online edit boxes for the following automated editing services:
Below is what I learned. Remember, I only tried the free options.
• These services point us to areas in our manuscripts that may need a second look. When we enter our material into these tools, we’re responsible for what we change in our manuscripts. We must remain in charge.
• If we make a change without scanning nearby sentences, we may cause a new problem. For example, the automated program may suggest a stronger word, but the stronger word has already been used once or twice in the paragraph, causing repetitive word usage.
• Using two or more free services may catch more problems. For example, passive-writing flags were different among the tools, suggesting they have different criteria for what is passive writing. One service flagged just, a weasel word, the others didn’t.
• The free tools didn’t do well on problems such as missing quotation marks and two spaces between sentences. The grammar and spelling checks in word processing programs are still important.
• I liked ProWritingAid best.
What I Liked About ProWritingAid
Among other benefits, here’s what I liked about ProWritingAid’s tool.
• ProWritingAid states on its site “ProWritingAid never stores, shares or resells your text.”
• I can click on 10 tabs: Summary, Style, Grammar, Overused, Readability, Clichés, Sticky, Diction, All Repeats, and Echos, which concentrate on specific tests.
• I can look at ProWritingAid’s extensive evaluation of my excerpt in the Summary tab. It offers easy to print, open in a new window, and email options. I like its suggested limits on such items as adverbs used and repeated sentence starts.
• ProWritingAid gives a word substitute for a wordy phrase.
• It attempts to highlight instances when the writer tells a feeling instead of showing it.
• It tries to catch words that should be hyphenated or a homonym (you’re) that is incorrect for the meaning (your).
• When I hover over the underlined, color-coded flagged phrases, ProWritingAid, gives possible problems and suggestions for the correction.
• It caught more of the problems I hoped the tools would flag than the other tools.
ProWritingAid’s free version was very good, but I bought the premium version.
If you’re looking for an editing tool to supplement your editing, I suggest you try out each of the tools mentioned in the post and other services you find in a search.
My search for an automated editing tool among free ones. Click to tweet.
What automated editing tools do you use and why?