Hemingway is an online editing tool named after famed author Ernest Hemingway. In the spirit of its namesake, Hemingway helps you make your writing tighter and more concise.
There’s a free version of Hemingway you can use in your web browser, as well as a paid version you can use as a desktop app.
So, is Hemingway the right editing assistant for you?
This article will give you our evaluation of Hemingway’s strengths and weaknesses to help you decide if this tool is right for you.
What Is Hemingway Editor?
The Hemingway Editor is designed to “make your writing bold and clear.”
It looks for issues like complex sentences, unnecessary adverbs, and passive voice to help you improve your writing style.
You can access the Hemingway Editor for free through any standard web browser, such as Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.
Once you’re on the website, you can either type directly into the online editor or paste your text from a different writing software. Then, the Hemingway Editor will scan your work and look for ways to make it more readable.
The editor highlights instances of weak writing in five different colors. These five colors correspond to five different categories of potential improvements:
- Yellow highlights show you sentences that are longer or more convoluted than they need to be. Hemingway suggests either condensing these sentences or breaking them up into multiple sentences.
- Red highlights show you sentences that are structured in a way that might confuse readers. Hemingway suggests restructuring these sentences to make them clearer.
- Purple highlights show you overly complex words that could be rephrased in simpler ways. Hemingway suggests a simpler alternative.
- Blue highlights show you adverbs that weaken your overall prose. Hemingway suggests omitting them.
- Green highlights show you phrases that use the passive voice. Hemingway suggests switching to active voice.
Once you see all of Hemingway’s highlighted suggestions, you can decide which ones to implement and which ones to ignore.
On the right side of the screen, Hemingway will also provide a summary of your text, including a readability score, word count, and more.
The readability score tells you how readable your work is, as well as an estimated reading level (such as Grade 6 or Grade 7). According to the founders of Hemingway, the average American reads at a 10th-grade level, so you should aim to keep your writing below this readability level when you’re writing for a general audience.
Hemingway also tells you the word count of your text. When you click the “Show More” button underneath the word count, Hemingway will tell you the estimated reading time of your work and the number of letters, characters, sentences, and paragraphs you’ve used.
Finally, the summary also tells you how many highlights the editor made in each color. That way, you can see how many times you’ve used passive voice, unnecessary adverbs, and all the other weaknesses that Hemingway looks for.
What Is the Hemingway App?
The phrase Hemingway App refers to the paid desktop version of Hemingway, as opposed to the phrase Hemingway Editor, which refers to the free online editing tool.
The Hemingway App is available for both Windows and Mac. Unlike the free editor, it requires a one-time payment of $19.99.
This editing app gives you the same level of analysis as the free version. Like the online editor, the Hemingway App highlights your writing in five different colors and provides a readability score and a reading level assessment.
The upside of paying for the app is that it comes with a variety of usability options that the online version doesn’t offer, such as:
- Use the app offline
- Save your work in the app
- Export your work in various formats, such as PDF, HTML, Word, and Markdown
- Publish your work directly to blogging sites like Medium or WordPress
Hemingway Writing Tool Features
When you’re choosing a writing tool that works well for you, you should identify your specific needs and look for features that meet them.
Here’s our assessment of Hemingway’s features.
Style improvement is where Hemingway excels.
The five highlighting colors point out weaknesses in your writing and give you useful, actionable suggestions. Running your work through Hemingway can definitely help you make it clearer and more concise.
Of course, there are many aspects of writing style that aren’t included within Hemingway’s five categories. For example, Hemingway won’t look for repetition, such as echoed words or multiple sentences that start the same way.
If you’re looking for a robust editor to help you improve your writing style, Hemingway is a good starting point, but it’s not the best one on the market.
Summary of Analysis
The summary on the right side of the Hemingway Editor includes many useful numbers.
Many writers find it useful to see the number of times Hemingway has highlighted their text in each color. That way, you can see if you have a tendency to write in a specific way—for example, if you use a lot of passive voice—and you can be mindful about that going forward.
Many freelance writers and bloggers also appreciate the estimated reading time in the summary panel, which tells you how many minutes it will take the average reader to read your work. Some blogs and magazines offer that information to readers, so it’s useful to see if you’re hitting your target reading time.
You can use the online Hemingway Editor in two different modes: Write and Edit.
The Write mode simplifies the environment, removing the sidebar and all highlighting, to let you focus on the words you’re typing. The app’s distraction-free interface makes it easier to finish your draft without worrying about future edits.
The Edit mode shows you the five colors of highlights, so you can see potential improvements. It also shows you your readability score, reading grade level, word count, and more.
Toggling between the two modes gives you more flexibility while using the Hemingway Editor.
Unlike ProWritingAid and Grammarly, Hemingway isn’t primarily designed to be a grammar checker.
It will catch some grammatical errors with its yellow and red highlights, but many grammar issues will slip through the cracks.
If you want to catch all your grammar errors, you should invest in a software designed for that purpose. Hemingway isn’t necessarily the right tool for that.
Many writers choose Hemingway because it’s an affordable editing option. It may not offer an in-depth grammar checker or robust style analysis, but it still provides many useful suggestions for free.
Even the desktop app is more affordable than the premium versions of most other writing tools. A single upfront payment of $19.99 gives you access to the Hemingway App for life.
Still, don’t forget that many writing assistants, such as ProWritingAid and Grammarly, also offer free versions in addition to their Premium versions. If you’re looking for a good free editor, you may benefit more from the free versions of a more robust writing assistant than from the free Hemingway website.
Hemingway Editor: Free vs Paid
Many users who love the free version of Hemingway wonder if the paid version of Hemingway is worth the investment.
You might expect the Hemingway App to provide extra analysis in addition to what you’d get with the Hemingway Editor, since it costs $19.99, but it actually analyzes your text in the same way the free version does.
The main perks of paying for the app revolve around ease of use.
For example, the app doesn’t require an internet connection, so you can use it no matter where you are.
The app also lets you save your work, instead of doing all your editing in one go. That’s important because if your browser crashes while you’re using the free editor, you’ll lose any work you’ve written so far.
You can also export your writing in various formats, such as PDF, Word, HTML, and Markdown.
Finally, it lets you publish directly to Medium or WordPress. If you’re writing an article or post for either of those two platforms, you can publish directly through the Hemingway app, instead of exporting your work first.
If you use sites like Medium or WordPress, or if you lke easy save and export options, it might be worth investing in the paid Hemingway App. Otherwise, you can get the same quality of analysis by sticking with the free online editor.
Hemingway vs ProWritingAid
Hemingway is an efficient and affordable tool. However, it only looks for five different categories of improvements.
ProWritingAid is an AI-powered writing assistant that offers over 20 different reports to help you improve your writing.
In addition to spelling and grammar, some more advanced ProWritingAid reports include:
- Contextual Thesaurus Report: enables you to explore a wide selection of synonyms for any particular word, so you can use the most effective word choices possible
- Sentence Length Report: makes sure you’re using varying sentence lengths to keep the reader interested, instead of too many short and choppy sentences
- Overused Words Report: points out words that detract from your writing, such as “very” and “maybe”
- Consistency Check: makes sure you’re using consistent hyphenation, capitalization, punctuation, and other formatting conventions
- Author Comparison: lets you compare your own writing to that of famous authors
- Plagiarism Check: compares your work against over a billion web-pages and articles to make sure you’ve cited any content you’re using
Unlike Hemingway, ProWritingAid also lets you customize the types of suggestions you see. You can use ProWritingAid for academic writing, short stories, screenplays, and more.
All you have to do is tell ProWritingAid what type of document you’re writing, and it will give you specific suggestions. Some options include:
- Academic (sub-options: Academic Essay, Abstract, Admissions Letter, and more)
- Business (sub-options: Cover Letter, Email, Case Study, and more)
- Creative (sub-options: Nonfiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and more)
- Casual (sub-options: General, Casual, and Dating Profile)
- Web (sub-options: General Web Copy, Short Web Article, and more)
ProWritingAid also integrates seamlessly with different browsers and other writing apps, so you don’t need to open a new website or app every time you want to check your writing.
You can use ProWritingAid on Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Chrome, Firefox, and even popular writing apps like Scrivener and Final Draft. There’s no need to import or export your work, like you do on Hemingway—you can see ProWritingAid’s suggestions as you type into your favorite website or word processing software.
And if that’s not enough, ProWritingAid also comes with a wealth of educational materials.
Every time ProWritingAid highlights a weakness in your writing, you can click the “i” icon to learn more about that issue. You can also watch videos, read articles, and even take quizzes related to various grammar rules and mistakes.
With ProWritingAid, you can edit your writing seamlessly and also improve your writing skills over time. It’s a win-win.
Conclusion on the Hemingway Editor/App
If you’re looking for an affordable writing software that can help you improve your writing style, Hemingway is a great option to consider.
Hemingway points out clear weaknesses and gives you suggestions that will make your writing more powerful. You can get these suggestions with the free online editor, or you can invest in the desktop app for more ease of use.
However, Hemingway also has many limitations. For example, it focuses on making your writing simpler and more concise, which might sometimes work against you if you prefer to write with more lyrical or flowery prose than Ernest Hemingway.
If you’re looking for a software with more sophisticated suggestions, which you can customize to meet your specific writing goals, you’ll need a tool like ProWritingAid.
ProWritingAid provides an in-depth analysis of your writing that covers all your bases. If you’re ready to take your writing to the next level, try the free version of ProWritingAid to see how it works.
Good luck, and happy writing!