Copy Editing Software for Authors

Stressed EditorOnce the rough draft is completed and the author has gone through the revision process, the next step is to look at your work line by line to check for basic copy editing mistakes, grammar, punctuation, style and spelling checks. As a writer, I would never suggest that any novelist skip the step of hiring a human editor to go over their work, especially for content changes. However, in the interest of saving money and time, I feel that running your novel through a computer based copy edit program before you send the manuscript to the editor is a good idea. When I use a copy editor program, I look for more than basic grammar, spelling and punctuation checks. I also like programs that will check out sentence lengths, adverbs, repeated words in nearby paragraphs, cliche use and more.

I’ve used the programs below, having purchased them as a customer or used them as free trials. None of the software companies offered me a copy of their program or asked that I review their product. All of these programs have had many recommendations to me, either through my local writing groups or via online reviewing sources that I trust. I’ve given my personal thoughts on each one as to their usefulness to me as a short story writer, ghostwriter and novelist.

After The Deadline
Free

This is an addon program for OpenOffice that gives you additional grammar, spelling, and style checks for your writing. It is free of charge. If you are currently using the OpenOffice suite for your writing needs, this would be a good program to add to your arsenal. It is a basic program offering a better grammar check than what is available in OpenOffice. I used this program briefly with OpenOffice before I switched to RightWriter. It works fine for basic grammar checks, but it lacks many of the features a true copy editor should have.

Autocrit
$77 membership fee

This is a copy editor for creative writing that has quite a following on the Internet. The interface is powerful. It will catch many grammar, punctuation, and style mistakes in your manuscript. I have used the free trial version and found it worked well in proofing my stories and articles.

Grammarly

One of the interesting features of this web-based writing check is that not only will it check your grammar, spelling, punctuation and style as the other programs do, but it also checks for plagiarism! If it finds something similar to your work on the Internet, it will alert you. If you tend to do a great deal of research for articles on the Internet, this last check can be of considerable value to you. It can point out sources to footnote in your own work or allow you to change your manuscript so that it is more uniquely your own. This program has been designed with medical students, regular students and journalists in mind.

RightWriter
$30

I owned and used RightWriter for a number of years when I was using AbiWord as my main word processor. I found that the grammar checks in AbiWord were dismal. I started to use this inexpensive program to correct my grammar. It helped me discover and remove much of the passive voice in my creative writing. It is a stand alone program that will work independently on your laptop and desktop. While it does work as a basic grammar check, I find that it lacked many of the additional reports that I find useful in copy editing.

SmartEdit
$50

I like the reports that SmartEdit generates. It picks up adverbs, checks your grammar, sentence lengths and other handy copy editor tasks that are useful for a creative writer. It makes no changes to your manuscript, instead it prompts you to decide if you will make the changes yourself. You can run all the reports at once or choose to do the various checks one at a time. If there are checks you don’t want to use, you do not need to waste computing time on them. It is a stand alone program without subscriptions which makes it more economical than the other choices. I find that I like this program as a first pass copy editor and the information in the reports to be more useful than some of the other programs I reviewed.

Pro Writing Aid
$35 per year

This is another online subscription editor. You must cut and paste your text into it online to gain various reports on your writing. You need to use a browser other than Firefox to use this program. I used windows explorer to access the online editor box successfully. The program did more than a simple grammar check, it broke down the different aspects of my writing into many different and useful reports. It allows you to look at your adverb use or at sentence lengths individually, allowing you to focus on certain aspects of your writing where you feel you need work. I found this online copy editor to be excellent and would recommend it as an one of the better options for creative writers.

Whitesmoke
$79 per year

This program is for spelling, grammar, punctuation, style and structure checkers. It will catch the small mistakes in your manuscript so that you will be able to send a cleaner manuscript to your copy editor. It is designed to work with your outgoing email and is more for business use than for creative writing. While I found this to be a good grammar checker, I felt that for editing it did not give enough information to serve as a first pass copy editor.

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21 thoughts on “Copy Editing Software for Authors”

  1. Hi. Just wanted to let you know that you spelled Grammarly wrong. :-)

    Also, I have to agree that no computer program is going to give you the same attention to detail and depth of knowledge as a flesh and blood proofreader/editor.

    I might be a little biased though, because I am one!

    1. Opps. It takes an editor to catch my typos! Thanks. I corrected the spelling error.

      You might be biased, but in a good way. I like to use the computer programs to catch more obvious mistakes. For that they are worth the price. I firmly believe that a human editor and human beta readers are an important part of the writing process. We have not and should not replace you with a machine! Thanks for stopping by the blog. :)

  2. ok, i checked these out…i like pro writing aid…and to be honest, it was the word cloud that made me stop and get googley….

    35 bucks seems like a really good price for a year, too

  3. Nice review. I found a great service that I now use called eangel.me
    It correct your emails and other texts by a team of language professionals, and you pay for the number of corrections.

    1. I have tried the free version of Style Writer. The full yearly subscription is expensive.
      What I love about it, it’s an add on for Microsoft Word. So you can edit your document as you go along. It picks out glue words, blog index, sentence structure, passive voice. It very useful to brush up your MS before you send it.
      Having said that, I’m using ProWriting Aid, and it does a better job, with more in depth analysis and it’s only $35 for a year. So guess which one I’ll be purchasing.

  4. Thanks, Wendy, for the detailed information and your own personal thoughts on each of the editing software options. I’m looking for something to help me pick up on my own mistakes and tighten up my future writing. Since I’m all about reports, I’m going to give Smart Edit a shot and see how it goes. Thanks again!

  5. I just added Pro Writing Aid to my Google Docs as one of their add ons. The very first thing I tried to use it for required a paid subscription. A simple check for overused words required a payment. Needless to say, I quickly removed it, gave it the lowest review possible, and am now scouring the internet finding various places to continue doing just that. I absolutely loathe the tactic of letting you download it for free, then having one function before being required to pay. Either what they advertise is free, or it is not, simple as that. While I can appreciate the need for something to double-check the work, it should never be advertised as free if it is not. I have a small list of companies that I will make it a point to never do business with, and they just made it.

    1. I ended up paying for the one that I use. I also belong to an online writer’s community that includes fully functional editing software with their membership fee. In effect, I have access to two different systems when I wish it. You need to remember that these companies are proving a service and if they are not compensated, they are not going to continue to develop the software for your use. They are entitled to make a honest living. I’m sorry that you felt you had a bad experience with google docs. I don’t use google docs, I prefer my own purchased software when I write, so I can’t comment on it directly.

  6. Reblogged this on Tea Talks… home of Helen Treharne, author : I write, I review, I rant and commented:
    This is quite an old blog that I found on Wasted Ink but I thought I’d share it with you as it references AutoCrit. This is powerful editing tool which won’t tell you what changes to make, but will give you a good overview of overused words, grammar, adverbs etc. It also provides you with a comparison of your style and structure compared to your target genre. I’m not saying this is the best tool and no replacement for a real human Editor, but as an extra tool in your editing arsenal it’s not bad. There is currently a Black Friday offer running (into this weekend) which means you can pick up the professional subscription for around $50 for the year – or around £35. It’s an online tool rather than an Office add on but unlike many online tools there are no limits to the size of the document or how much you can check at a time. Worth a look at this blog this post and doing some comparison shopping!

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