The best editing tools (for writers or non-writers)

Editing your own writing can be hard. Discover 15 editing tools to help improve your writing…even if you’re not a pro writer.
The best editing tools (for writers or non-writers)
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As a freelance writer, I'm always looking for new editing tools to help me do my job better. 

If you’re not a pro writer, maybe you’re not as excited about evaluating editing tools. Well, after 26 years of writing professionally, earning a bachelor's degree in English, teaching English, and editing hundreds of thousands (maye even millions) of words of my own writing as well as that of other writers I’ve tried most of the writing and editing tools on the market. 

In this blog post we'll explore the best editing tools and why even non-writers should have some basic editing tools in their toolbox (Hint: They’ll help improve your writing whether you’re looking to become a freelance writer or just want to strengthen your written communication.).


Skip to:
Editing vs. proofreading vs. revising
Don't edit vs self-edit vs hire a pro editor

The 15 best editing tools (for writers or non-writers)

Why is editing your writing important? 

When you write something down, you're not just recording what you think or feel; you are also shaping how others will perceive you.

If you want people to remember you for who you really are, then make sure they know exactly what you mean when you say something.

Additionally, if you don't edit your work, it's easy to get carried away and start writing about things that aren't relevant to the topic at hand. This can lead to an unfocused piece of writing that doesn't have much value. By editing your work before publishing, you'll ensure that your message gets across clearly and concisely.

Editing is the process of reading over what you've written and making changes to improve your writing. It can be as simple as fixing typos or grammar mistakes, or it can be more complex, like rewriting entire paragraphs to make them flow better. You might even find yourself cutting out entire sentences or paragraphs if they don't add anything meaningful to your writing.

Editing is an important part of writing and publishing. It can improve the quality of your work, make it easier to read, reduce your revision time by catching and fixing errors earlier in the process, and help you find inconsistencies that could confuse readers.

Editing helps writers because it ensures that their thoughts are conveyed clearly, without any confusion on the part of their audience. It also improves readability by smoothing out any rough patches in the writing style so that readers can easily follow along without getting lost in a jumble of tangled sentences and unclear ideas.

Editing also helps non-writers because it makes their work look more professional—even if they don't know how to write well.

We’ve covered the problem with bad writing and what it costs you before. In that same blog post, I said “A good writer takes responsibility for making their ideas clear.” and that the easiest way to make your written ideas clearer is to learn how to proofread and edit. 

The thing is, editing can take a long time. 

Samantha Enslen, member of ACES: The Society for Editing's Executive Board and President of Dragonfly Editorial cites six pages per hour— or 1500 words per hour — as an industry standard metric. That's assuming standard-quality text, about 250 words per page, and double-spaced copy. Of course, Enslen is referring to the time it takes professional editors. It could take the rest of us mere mortals longer. 

That’s part of the reason people are increasingly turning to AI writing tools to help them get work done more efficiently. In fact, a survey of 200+ content marketers and writers found bloggers who used AI reported it took 2.81 hours to write a blog post, compared with 4.02 hours for bloggers who did not.

Editing vs. proofreading vs. revising

Editing is the process of correcting errors in a piece of writing—typos, grammar mistakes, plot holes or other flaws that can be easily fixed. Proofreading is checking the copy for errors before publication to ensure it’s free from typos and other small mistakes (like the word “it's” instead of “its”). Revising refers to improving a piece by changing its content or style based on feedback from an editor or reader.

Editing your own work is difficult

Editing your own work is a difficult process.

Even if you're a good writer, it's almost impossible to see your own mistakes in the same way that an objective reader would. You know what you meant when you wrote something, but the audience doesn't necessarily know what your intention was—You're too close to the work.

It's too personal.

You've invested so much time and effort into your writing that you can't see its flaws anymore.

Why? Because of something called "writer's blindness."

Writer's blindness is an issue that comes up when we try to edit our own work—we can't see the flaws because we're so close to it that we can't see the forest for the trees.

The truth is that no matter how hard we try or how many times we read over our work, there are always going to be things that can be improved upon in our writing. It's just part of the process.

And if you’re not a professional editor or an experienced writer, you may not have the skills needed to edit your own work. 

If you’ve never had any formal training in writing and publishing, it can be difficult to determine whether or not your content is ready for publication. It’s easy to fall into traps that make your writing sound unprofessional, like using passive voice or using words like “very” and “really” too often.

Don't edit vs self-edit vs hire a pro editor 

When it comes to editing your writing, you have three options: don't edit; self-edit; hire a pro editor.

The first option is to not edit at all. This is often the cheapest and quickest choice, but it can also leave you with some pretty big flaws in your text. If you're working on a short piece of writing or aren't too worried about the quality of what you're producing, this may be fine for you.

The second option is self-editing. You read through your own work, note places where things could be better, and then go back and fix them. Self-editing can be a great way to make sure that your content is at its best before sending or posting it online. But it can also take quite a long time, especially if you haven't done this type of work before.

Your third option is hiring a professional editor or proofreader. The third option is hiring an editor who knows exactly how to help your writing shine. They'll go through every line with a fine-toothed comb and help ensure that everything reads smoothly from start to finish. This is often the most expensive option—but if you want the best possible result from your writing efforts, sometimes it's worth paying for.

The 15 best editing tools (for writers or non-writers)

If you’re looking for ways to work smarter, there are some great resources available to help you do it better and faster. Here are 15 editing tools that will help you improve your writing…even if you’re not a pro writer.

Hemingway App

Hemingway is one of my favorite writing apps.

Hemingway App is a free tool that helps you identify and remove passive voice, adverbs and phrases, long sentences, and other clutter from your writing.

The app uses the Hemingway Editor to highlight words that are too complex for its reading level algorithm to understand. It also gives suggestions for better word choices based on common mistakes made by writers of all ability levels.

The Hemingway App is available for free on both iOS and Android. The app contains a free version, which allows you to write up to 1,000 words, as well as an upgraded paid version that removes ads and unlocks additional features.

There’s also a desktop version.

Dupli Checker

Dupli Checker is a free online tool that quickly spots duplicate content in your text. It's very easy to use and has a lot of great options, but it isn't perfect.

Dupli Checker looks for phrases or sentences that are exactly the same across multiple documents or pages on your site (or even multiple sites). The good news is that it doesn't just compare keywords; it finds near-duplicates, too. You can also tell Dupli Checker which words are allowed to be matched—e.g., if you have a website about dogs and don't want it to match "dog" with "puppy," this option is available for you.

The tool is available in 18 languages.

You can upgrade with the company’s custom pricing plans to unlock more features like real-time global web search, rephrasing articles, and downloadable custom PDF reports.

Quilbot

If you’re looking for an affordable, free way to edit your work, Quillbot is a great option. Upgrading to the paid version will get you additional features and support.

The free version has everything you need: a writing assistant that will flag common mistakes and help you find new words as you write, a grammar checker that automatically detects errors in spelling and grammar, and recommendations on how to improve your writing (with an editor profile). You can also upload documents from Google Drive or Dropbox using links.

Quillbot does its job well with basic checks such as spelling corrections and correct capitalization of important words like titles or names; however it misses some less obvious errors like repeated use of the same word twice in quick succession (like “I was walking down the street when I saw him coming towards me on his bicycle”).

The online paraphraser from QuillBot lets you rephrase any text in a variety of ways and offers two free modes and five premium modes to choose from. With QuillBot’s help, you can increase your fluency while also making sure that your vocabulary, tone, and fashion are appropriate for every situation. Just type your text into the input box, and the AI will collaborate with you to come up with the most effective rephrasing. You can incorporate QuillBot into the writing tools you already use since it integrates directly into Chrome and Microsoft Word so you don’t have to switch windows each time you want to rephrase a sentence, paragraph, or article.

Cite This For Me

If you’re serious about citing sources, then Cite This For Me is the tool for you. It's a free online citation generator that can generate citations in any style, including Chicago and APA—the two most popular styles used in academia.

In addition to creating citations, you can check your paper for plagiarism.

Cite This For Me works by letting users enter their source information (such as author name, title of book/article/etc.) and then showing them how to format it for whichever style guide they are using. It also generates bibliographies at the click of a button.

There are also options to have Cite This For Me automatically generate your bibliography as well—allowing you to focus on other aspects of writing without having to worry about formatting or adding references yourself!

Cite This For Me’s citation generator supports nearly any style you can think of, including Harvard, APA (American Psychological Association) style, MLA (Modern Language Association) style, Chicago style, Vancouver, and thousands of others.

You can cite as many sources as you like with a premium account, arrange them into bibliographies, and save all of those bibliographies so you can quickly access your references. It's a great method for keeping track of your bibliographies and citing with confidence.

EasyBib

EasyBib is one of the best tools for generating citations. It can help you create bibliographies for your essays, papers, research projects and more. You can use it to generate MLA, APA, Chicago and Turabian style bibliographies in seconds. EasyBib is free to use on the web or via mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

EasyBib's interface is easy to navigate even if you are new to this kind of program.

The program is free to use and available in a variety of languages. You can use it on the web or via mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. The user interface is easy to navigate even if you are new to this kind of program.

EasyBib has a Writing Center that’s packed with resources like videos, infographics, research guides, and many other citation-related resources. 

SmartEdit 

SmartEdit is a cloud-based tool that can be accessed from any device, and its features are simple to use. The program includes a built-in dictionary, thesaurus and grammar checker. It also checks for plagiarism, generates citations and provides feedback on writing style.

These are all great features for writers who want to make sure their writing is clear, correct and compelling—but those aren't the only reasons why SmartEdit is worth checking out. If you're not a writer at all (or just not an experienced one), these tools can help you improve your communication skills in any context: whether that means stronger presentations at work or more effective emails with friends and family members.

WordRake 

WordRake is a writing app that helps you write better. No matter what your level of skill, WordRake will help improve the quality of your prose.

WordRake uses AI and machine learning to analyze sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, parallelism (yes/no), verb forms, word counts and more. The program can even detect plagiarism from the internet or another document in your computer. Once it analyzes these things about your text, it suggests improvements so that you can make adjustments as necessary.

WordRake is available for Windows and Mac computers with an internet connection required for use. There's no need to purchase any software unless you want additional features such as spell checking or editing suggestions for other parts of speech besides nouns and verbs. You can also purchase premium services from within WordRake or directly from their website if they're unavailable within the program itself.

CorrectEnglish 

CorrectEnglish is a useful tool for writers, but it can be helpful to anyone who wants to make their writing more effective and engaging. The app checks grammar and spelling, as well as style and tone. You can also use the app to find out how much passive voice you're using (or not using) in your writing—a good rule of thumb is that less than 15% is best.

CorrectEnglish also helps you edit sentences so they're more cohesive: it highlights where verbs should be conjugated according to tense, number and person; it checks for dangling modifiers; and it alerts you if a sentence uses an unnecessary word or phrase (like "in today's society").

After the Deadline 

After the Deadline is an online grammar checking tool that checks for more than just mistakes in spelling and punctuation. After The Deadline also checks for awkward phrasing, repetition, missing words and other issues that might make your writing difficult to read. It’s free and available online or via most browsers.

After the Deadline isn’t actively maintained anymore and their hosted service is sunset however, all of the source code is available for download if you want to run your own AtD server.

ProWritingAid 

One of the best editing tools available, ProWritingAid is a free tool that detects all types of grammar and punctuation errors. The paid version also offers suggestions on how to correct common issues, such as passive voice and incorrect word choice. The paid version also checks for plagiarism and can be used with Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Grammar Checker 

Grammar Checker is a free online grammar checker that uses artificial intelligence to help writers find and fix their mistakes. It’s available both as an extension for Google Chrome, and as a website you can visit directly.

The best feature of Grammar Checker is its ability to recognize multi-sentence errors, which it then offers suggestions on how to fix. 

Additionally, Grammar Checker has an excellent vocabulary bank which analyzes your writing style based on word choice and frequency within your text (and even compares it against other writers), giving insight into whether or not there are any areas where changes could be made for better clarity or emphasis.

1Checker 

1Checker is a free online tool that checks your grammar, spelling, and style. You can use it to write emails, social media posts, blog posts—anything you'd normally use in your everyday life. It highlights errors in red and provides suggestions for improvements, making it easy for you to quickly improve upon any writing project you're working on. If you aren't confident about your writing skills but still want to improve them without having to pay for an editor (or if you just don't have the time), this is a great option for anyone looking to elevate their writing game.

Grammarly 

If you want to improve your writing skills and make sure your work is error-free, Grammarly is a must-have tool.

Grammarly provides free and paid versions—both of which are available on all devices—and offers a host of features that go beyond basic grammar checking. If you’re looking for an editor that will help you write better content and edit existing pieces, Grammarly is an excellent choice.

Ginger

If you’re looking for a free grammar checker, there are a number of options. Ginger is one of the best.

Ginger works with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Gmail—so if you use any of those platforms or if your writing is shared with colleagues who do, this tool will help ensure that everyone’s on the same page when it comes to grammar and style. It checks for 250 types of errors and can catch plagiarism as well (in case you’ve been worried about that). The paid version includes additional features including automated referencing suggestions, an easy way to find synonyms for words in your document, and more advanced plagiarism detection capabilities.

Slick Write

You may have heard of Slick Write, a browser extension that checks for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors in your writing. It's also useful if you're worried about plagiarism—though some might say it's not an excuse to cheat!

In addition to checking for grammatical mistakes, Slick Write will point out any repeated words or phrases so you can make your writing more unique.

You can use this tool even if you don't know how to code or what “HTML” means (even though it stands for Hypertext Markup Language). The software is available on Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers. If you want to test it out before committing yourself financially, there are free versions available as well as paid ones with extra features such as plagiarism scanning tools.

Over to you…

The bottom line is, if you want to get your point across, editing is an essential step. 

It's not just about making sure there are no typos or grammatical errors in your writing. It's also about making sure that the content and tone of the text flows smoothly, without any awkward pauses or unresolved loose ends.

These tools should help out with the editing process. They're easy enough for anyone to use, so go ahead and give them a try.

And don’t forget, Hectic offers free and paid versions to help you increase productivity and earn more money, as well as providing continuing education for freelancers to grow their skills.

You can learn more about how Hectic works here.

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Anthony Sills
Anthony Sills is the Founder & Content Strategist at Professional Pen. He helps SasS and tech companies create marketing content that measurably attracts more customers using proven strategies, tactics, and frameworks.
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