So, in my search for tools to help me as a writer edit my own works, I stumbled across a few editing tools which seem to be pretty decent. Do these tools do everything and then some? No. Most of these tools help with processing, formatting, and dealing with what I will refer to as “banal” aspects of editing.
Because of these discoveries, I wanted to start a thread here just in case anyone else has found helpful macros, external applications, scripts, sites, or other lovely things to help editors take some of the things which can be easily missed (like spellings, em-dashes, &c), are repetitive, mind-numbing, or time-intensive.
I’m not focusing on tools, publications, software or sites related to craft, which I feel is a different animal from the technical, nuts and bolts components of writing. I’m only focusing on works which deal with the mechanics, grammar, usage and punctuation of the English language.
1. Grammarist (free) (internet) - Grammarist has bailed me out of some weird issues, particularly with spelling. I tend to have spelling which is closer to non-American English than American English for some things (i.e. storey instead of story). Grammarist is a nice, concise reference for the English language if you need a fast answer. It’s also headed by a freelance editor (for what it’s worth). Obviously, one disadvantage is that this requires internet access to use.
2. PerfectIt Pro (non-free) (desktop - Microsoft Word) - A commercial tool which integrates with Microsoft Word. It is not a be-all, end-all tool for editing, but it does run a suite of tests against a document and indicates where changes may need to be made. You as the editor are still responsible for looking over the changes, and editing the entirety of the document outside of the tests this product runs. It also has profiles for language, so if you live in Britain or Canada, you can choose to use those English conventions as well. At US$ 99 as of this writing, it’s a bit steep, but because it can look at the entire document instead of going line by line, it may be a time-saver in the long run. It does also offer a 30-day free trial for those interested in seeing whether or not it works for them.
3. Hemingway Editor (Beta) (free) (internet) (FWG Member Suggested) (contributed by Bahumat) - A free, web-based application designed to provide some editing assistance for free over the internet. It can provide statistics as well as a general guess at the required reading level. It allows an author to switch between Editing and Writing modes as well. It’s a nifty little took that can be used in a suite of tools to check over sections of documents. It can take novella-sized stories without an issue. Anything larger should be broken into segments. In addition, this is another case where you must have internet access to use this tool.
4. Grammar Girl (free) (internet) (FWG Member Suggested) (contributed by Dark End) - A segment on a site called Quick and Dirty Tips that specifically deals with common usage questions. It also does explore a little bit of craft, but most of the articles and tips seem to relate to when to use certain words and in what situations. Since this is a web site, internet required for access.
5. Google Books Ngram Viewer (free) (internet) (FWG Member Suggested) (contributed by Dark End) - A free tool to examine how often words appear within books that Google Books has access to within its database. It can also do searches for short phrases and in a variety of languages. There is some criticism about accuracy due to the nature of Optical Character Recognition in languages other than English (i.e. Chinese) and the database may be limited in the books it has access to. Like other web-based tools, you need access to the internet to use it.
6. editMinion (free) (internet) (FWG Member Suggested) (contributed by Adam Gould and Ocean Tigrox [FWG Member]) - Another website which can process chunks of text for specific words and uses that may need to be edited, such as adverbs, “said” word replacements and usage, passive voice, and others. Seems to tolerate up to 100k characters well, but is slow to analyze and may crash with some tools. You need internet access in order to use this tool.
WIP – There are a few other tools I’m looking in to. When I run more tests on them, I’ll post up my experience here along with location and price.