What is the best editing and proofreading software?

There comes a point around your third, fourth, tenth (!) draft where you cannot do anymore to your piece. You have fixed all the red squiggly lines Word has given you. You have read it a dozen times, and you are glazing over after the first chapter.

What now?

An editor

Editing is a vital part of the publishing process, but it’s not cheap, and this is why many authors are tempted to skip this step. So, it’s important to get your work as polished as possible before you get it professionally edited. This will mean there is less work for the editor to do and thus a lower cost when you eventually get a human pair of eyes on it.

The beauty of technology, and now artificial intelligence, is that for a relatively low cost there is software that can do a pretty good job of fixing a good chunk of writing errors before you get a real-life editor to dive in. I have learnt a lot about my writing by using these programs because they repeatedly pick up on your specific weak spots. For me it was not putting commas in two-clause sentences!

ProWritingAid

Free version or $120US per year (but you can often get coupons from an affiliate link to reduce this by half).

PWA is my favourite editing software. It’s a powerful app that assesses many areas of a manuscript. It picks up the obvious, like basic grammar and punctuation errors (those pesky commas), repeated words and mistaken words (bear/bare, their/there/they’re). It calls you out on passive voice (he was sitting → he sat or the table was covered by a colourful cloth → a colourful cloth covered the table), repeated sentence starts, and overuse of certain words. But it also measures pace, reading level, style, cliches, inclusive language, sticky sentences, vague words, overuse of adverbs and more. You can also run plagiarism checks.
It integrates with Mac, Windows, Word, Chrome, Firefox, Scrivener and more.

Grammarly

Free version or $144US per year

Grammarly is another powerful app. It checks for correctness, clarity, engagement and delivery. It scans for plagiarism as you go. The free version only checks for grammar and spelling but is way better than the Microsoft Word function.

This is probably the most well known of proofreading software and I hardly even notice it at work these days because it integrates with Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and 500,000+ mobile, web, and desktop applications.

Hemingway Editor

$100 or $150US per year.

This app is clean and easy to use. It aims to ‘make your writing bold’, a bit like the author himself. Its simple coloured highlighting clearly shows the different aspects; hard to read sentences or common errors in yellow, dense complex sentences in red, weakening phrase like adverbs and passive voice in blue and purple indicates where you can use a simpler word. These features seem to make Hemingway appropriate for business writing in particular. However, it’s simplicity is also its weakness, as it does not go into anywhere near as much detail as PWA or Grammarly.

PerfectIt

$149AU per year

PerfectIt is an editing software created for and used by editors, though it can be useful for writers. This app ensures that abbreviations, dashes, bullet points are consistent. It can make sure a specific style manual is followed and is also checks consistency with the Chicago Manual of Style, a commonly used style manual. It’s only available in Word and won’t pick up grammar or typos (only inconsistencies). As such, this is a useful tool for editors working on industry-specific papers, technical, government etc. and less for fiction authors.

AutoCrit

Free version or $180US per year

This is a writing software (not AI) which edits as you go. It also has a raft of other features like ‘story analyzer’, giving a more structural overview of your manuscript and ‘inspiration studio’ where AI helps with the story based on what has already been written. AutoCrit does not integrate with other writing apps, so the writing happens within the program and only when online. There may be a small learning curve to navigate around the pages. It generates thorough reports comparing your manuscript to published ones. It’s best to take advantage of the free version with this program as a writing friend of mine found it very hard to unsubscribe.

The above are the more popular programs, but there are plenty more. Others you may like to investigate are: Ginger, Quillbot, Language Tool, WhiteSmoke

Voice Editing

Free!

Perhaps before you consider an editing software, try this as a first edit; read your work out loud to yourself and/or use voice playback. Scrivener, Google docs and Microsoft Word all have this function. This is where I got a superb understanding of where to put those pesky commas. On another note, for later down the line, this process may also help to write more efficiently and clearly for audio book recordings.

You’ll be amazed how much better your manuscript will be after running it through one (or more!) of these programs. Then, when you’re ready for a human pair of eyes, you know where I am!