Here are five free online tools to make your writing better.
1. Hemingway Editor. Copy and paste a piece of your writing into this app, and it’ll identify overly complex sentences, passive writing and unnecessary adjectives. The result is writing that’s as lean and muscular as Hemingway’s famously punchy style.
2. Drivel Defence. This tool was created by the Plain English Campaign, the UK organization that’s been battling jargon since 1979. Sentence length is the main target with this tool, which tells you instantly what your average sentence length is, as well as how many words in each individual sentence. Aim for an average of 15 and a maximum of 24. Bonus tip: Click the possible alternative words box to weed out pretentious corporate-speak.
3. Writer’s Diet. This tool will assess the flabbiness of your writing and diagnose it from fit and trim to heart attack territory. The key thing to look out for with this one is how noun-laden your writing is. Too many nouns can drag your writing down.
4. Up-Goer Five Editor. This challenges you to describe a complex topic using only the top 1,000 most commonly used words in English, which is harder than it sounds. The results can be silly, funny and charming. It forces you find creative ways to communicate complex material.
5. Grammarly. As someone who regularly breaks the traditional rules of grammar for effect, I find Grammarly overcorrects me. So if you’re a confident English writer who likes to play with the language, this one’s not for you. My international students at Cambridge love Grammarly, though, because it helps them catch common errors such as tricky pronouns and faulty subject/verb agreement.