Correct spelling and grammar are imperative for skilful writing. A writing full of mistakes cannot please anyone. Today, many online and offline text editors are available to help writers check their writing. In the past few months, I’ve tried several such tools. Honestly, very few pleased me. This post is about the ones that I found useful. But before I begin, I must state that all these online text editors work with English language. So, if you write in any other language, these won’t be useful for you.
Best Free Online Text Editors
This is a simple online tool to check spelling and grammar of your text. You just type or copy/paste your text in the white box and click on the Checkup button. You have the option to check according to American English or British English. The default option is just English.
When you press the Checkup button, the online tool underlines the errors in red. It performs a basic spell-checking and sentence construction checking. The spelling checker is alright. However, its ability to recognize commonly confused words is not very good. While it recognized there/their, it did not notice sole/soul, one/won.
What I liked about this tool is its suggestions for tightening the sentences by pointing out unnecessary words. Like it suggested MANY is enough, instead of MANY DIFFERENT. My text contained a sentence ‘BUT THERE IS NO ONE TO LISTEN TO ME NOW.’ The tool suggested removing TO ME. The suggestion makes perfect sense. Similarly, in the sentence I HEARD THE SOUND OF SOBBING COMING FROM THAT ROOM, it suggested the removal of THE SOUND OF. Again, it makes sense. Though I’d need to change the sentence a bit more if I accept this suggestion. Five words saved in one small paragraph. The tool also works well at pointing out missing or unnecessary determiners (a, an, the)
As this is an online tool, it is more suitable for checking shorter text. However, there is no text limit. So, you can use it to check even novels, one chapter at a time.
Check out Sentence Checkup at: https://sentencecheckup.com/
Grammarly is the most popular spell and grammar checker. One reason for its popularity is that it can be used as an online checker, MS Office Add-on, a separate word processor on Windows. It also has a Chrome and Microsoft Edge extension that adds its functionality to emails, social media messages etc. Grammarly is available in free and paid versions.
The free version uses 100 rules to check spelling and grammar. The paid versions uses about 250 rules. The premium version (starting from $139.95 annually) also includes features like checks for punctuation, context, and sentence structure, vocabulary enhancement features, genre-specific writing checks, and plagiarism detector. The free version performs only critical spelling and grammar checks. However, it is enough for most users and does a decent job at highlighting mistakes. You need to create an account on Grammarly even if you wish to use its online editor.
Grammarly finds more errors than any other online text editor I’ve tried. However, it is far from perfect. I have not tried the paid version, but the free version has a lot of scope for improvement. When I tried it, it did not recognize commonly confused words like soul/sole. It did not recognize unnecessary words like the Sentence Checkup tool did. Nor did it even notice I’ve used VERY twice in a single sentence. It also gave several false positives.
However, it can prove time-saving by weeding out many mistakes and typos. Its Thesaurus feature can be a great help too. Just double-click on a word and Grammarly shows you its relevant synonyms. Also, when you use the Grammarly browser extension, it points out the mistakes as you type in emails or social media posts. This can prove helpful in saving you from embarrassing typos.
Check out Grammarly at: www.grammarly.com
(Links to Grammarly for MS Office, Windows, online checker etc. are present in the footer of the Grammarly homepage)
Sentence Checkup is best for checking sentence construction and weeding out unnecessary words. Grammarly is good for checking spelling and grammar of your work. The Hemmingway App helps in improving your writing style. It highlights adverbs, passive voice, phrases with simpler alternatives, and hard to read sentences. It also tells you whether your use of adverbs and passive voice is within the advisable limits or not. And also shows the Readability Grade of the text, reading time, and word count etc.
Hemmingway online text editor is simple to use and has a clean user interface. You can write on it or copy paste the text on its editor. It automatically highlights the mistakes in different colours. Also, it has text formatting options like Bold, Italics, Bullets, Headings and Link.
Hemmingway also has a Desktop app for offline use. It is a paid software which includes features like HTML editing, export to MS Word, Save as PDF with Hemmingway highlights, publish directly to WordPress & Medium, etc.
Check out Hemmingway app at http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
This online editor has more features than the editors mentioned above. It can check for spelling mistakes, adverbs, unnecessary words, simile, misplaced conjunction, repetitive words, wordy or redundant phrases, complex/simple sentences. It can show structural/sentence length/word length flow and the document statistics. Not all these features are selected by default. But you can go into settings and select the options you want.
Slick Write is a competent Editor, but not perfect. It too missed some commonly confused words. And its mistake underlines will sometimes make you scratch your head, trying to understand why the word is a mistake. Even NOT gets underlined as an adverb. It points out all possible mistakes, without caring for the context.
But overall, it works well.
One thing I dislike about Slick Write is that the Critique and Editing features are separate. The critique shows you mistakes but you must switch to the Editing to remove that mistake. The Editing space shows no underlines, so you must find that mistake yourself. And then switch back to Critique to see the next mistake. Then switch back to editing to remove it. And so on. It’s weird and irritating.
Check out Slick Write at https://www.slickwrite.com/#!home
I know this is not an online tool, though it to has its online app. But I’m talking about the offline program that most of us use. We must not ignore the spelling and grammar checking abilities of the good old MS Word. The newer versions of MS Word are quite good at weeding out mistakes. I have a subscription of Office 365. MS Word 365 is frequently updated. In just a year, I’ve seen several improvements in its checking abilities. Also, if you dig deep into the Setting of the Editor, you can further enhance its abilities. Click at Editor’s Settings, then open the Settings next to Writing Style. In these settings, you can choose all the mistakes you want MS Word to check. Make sure you have chosen Grammar and Refinements in the Writing Style box. The refinements include checking for clarity and conciseness, punctuation conventions, and Vocabulary Choice.
Update: Recently, I also learnt of another similar website https://grammark.org. I tried it a little and found it easy to use and useful. You can check it out too.
Which text editor I use?
Well, I have been relying on MS Word, mostly. For my blog posts, I have the Jetpack plugin’s checker and the Yoast plugins readability suggestions. For my novel You Came Like Hope, I also used the Hemmingway app. I checked every chapter of my novel on it. For this blog post, I used all the editors I’ve mentioned above. They all serve their purpose. But none of them scored 100% in weeding out mistakes. They can lessen the proofreading work, but you still need to do manual checks. There’s still no alternative to the good old diligence and reading and rereading the text to spot out mistakes.
Over the years, I’ve listed up a few words that crop in too often into my text and are mostly unnecessary. I use MS Word to highlight all these words in my text, and then I edit them out one by one. Here’s my list of words to watch out for: Very, Really, But, That, Then, Than, She, Adverbs (words ending in ly), of (to reduce passive voice), not, shouldn’t, couldn’t, can’t (to reduce negative, encourages use of powerful verbs), in order to, start to, Gerunds (words ending in ing), was/were (indicate passive voice), very, just, so, however. Avoid starting your sentences with There is, There are, There were. Don’t know how to highlight all instances of a word in MS Word? It’s simple. Open the Replace utility (Ctrl + H), type the word in ‘Find what’ and ‘Replace with’ fields. Click the Format button near the bottom and select Highlight. Then, click the Highlight button on the MS Word ribbon and select the highlight colour. Now on the Replace tool box, click Replace All. This works for me and should work for you too.
* Top image is from Pixabay.com
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