- Intuitive interface
- Pro version is very affordable
- Hemingway Highlights offer at-a-glance insights
- Basic word processor functionality
- WordPress integration doesn't work with SSL
- Not a full-fledged grammar solution like Grammarly or ProWritingAid
Contrary to what your teachers told you, simple writing is better at communicating your thoughts and ideas. Why? Because it’s easier to read and understand.
Maintaining a casual tone is particularly important when writing for the web. If your reader has to whip out a dictionary to understand your work, you’ve not done your job. And since the average American reads at an 8th-grade reading level, leaner writing is also best for broad audiences.
Remember KISS? Keep it simple, silly!
One author from back in the day excelled at keeping it simple. He used plain language, so his works were easy to comprehend. This accessible writing style propelled him to fame, and his works remain popular to this very day. Can you guess who? The great Ernest Hemingway, of course!
Inspired by Hemingway’s writing voice, a pair of developers set out to create a piece of software that helps you channel Hemingway’s relatable language. Introducing… the Hemingway Editor.
Now, grab a nice cuppa and settle in as we begin our comprehensive Hemingway Editor review.
What is Hemingway Editor?
Inspired by the beloved 20th-century writer, Hemingway Editor (AKA Hemingway App) is a word processor and text editor designed to simplify and improve your writing.
The word processor part of the software offers a distraction-free canvas and a few formatting options for jotting down your thoughts. The editing part provides a number of fantastic insights and is ideal for cutting down sentence length, eliminating adverbs, and ridding your works of the deadliest of sins — passive voice.
In the words of Hemingway Editor’s developers, Adam and Ben Long:
“Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear.”— Adam and Ben Long
But does it really? Let’s go over Hemingway Editor’s core functionality to find out.
Hemingway App 101
First up in our Hemingway Editor review, let’s talk about how the app works. Note that Hemingway Editor comes in two flavors: the free version and the paid version.
They’re virtually identical, but the paid version comes as a desktop app (as opposed to a web app) and offers a few extra features (I’ll talk about those in a bit). For most of this Hemingway App review, we’ll be discussing features found in both versions.
Regardless of which version you’re using, the Hemingway Editor’s interface is straightforward and easy to use. True to form, there are only two modes of operation: Write Mode and Edit Mode.
Let’s go over each mode and talk about what they offer.
The natural place to go next in our Hemingway Editor review is Write Mode.
Once the coffee kicks in and the thoughts start flowing, you need someplace to jot down your ideas. That’s what Write Mode is for.
Write Mode offers a simple, intuitive writing experience without all the clutter. It’s just you and an empty canvas, alongside a few formatting options for marking up your text.
Hemingway Editor is part word processor. Like any word processor, it features a handful of formatting options for marking up your text. These include:
There’s nothing too sophisticated here — only the essentials. Fortunately, these are the most important tags for writing on the web, so you’re not missing out on much.
Overall, Write Mode is a reasonable addition to Hemingway’s core functionality. It’s like Notepad or TextEdit with a few extra features, and I could see it being useful for folks who are easily distracted while writing.
The only feature that might improve Hemingway Editor’s Write Mode is a fullscreen option that expands the writing canvas, thus eliminating all distractions. But that’s mostly nitpicking.
You can use Write Mode to jot down your thoughts and produce a rough draft of whatever piece you’re working on. Or, you can copy and paste your text from a word processor before moving on to editing.
As for me? Since I’m so used to writing in a Google Doc, I just copy and paste my work over. Then, I switch on Edit Mode.
This is where things get juicy, as Edit Mode offers the majority of Hemingway’s functionality. I mean, it is called the Hemingway Editor, after all.
Once you’re done writing (or you’ve pasted in text from another program), Hemingway works its magic.
The first thing you’re likely to notice? Your text is now full of highlights!
Hemingway identifies potential trouble areas in your writing and mark your text via color highlights over your words and sentences. These highlights mean different things based on their color.
- Blue Highlights. These signify adverbs, AKA words and phrases that modify adjectives or verbs. While adverbs are incredibly useful in certain circumstances (like when you want to emphasize a point), they’re also wordy and often unnecessary. Consider omitting them to remove the blue highlights from your text.
- Green Highlights. Ever heard of passive voice? It’s the opposite of active voice, which is when the subject of a sentence performs an action (Sara kicked the ball). In contrast, passive voice occurs when the subject is acted upon (the ball was kicked by Sara). Passive voice isn’t wrong, per se. But it’s more complex and wordier than active voice. There’s no need to eliminate passive voice, but use it sparingly!
- Purple Highlights. You’ve undoubtedly read plenty of “gaudy” and overly complicated writing in your day. For the most part, it’s just a hassle for your readers. Purple highlights indicate that a word has a simpler, easier-to-understand alternative. Consider using it!
- Yellow Highlights. When you see a yellow highlight, think about the yellow light at a traffic stop. In most cases, you’ll want to slow down and stop. The same is true with yellow highlights, which indicate complex sentences that you should consider shortening for better readability.
- Red Highlights. Continuing with the metaphor from above, red highlights are akin to red lights. You always stop at a red light unless there’s a darn good reason not to (like an emergency). Red highlights indicate very hard to read sentences, with lots of words and complex phrases. Consider breaking the sentence in two, or simplify your message.
Now that we’ve used our Hemingway Editor review to discuss the software’s most notable offering, let’s talk about another handy feature: statistics.
You’ll notice under the Hemingway Editor logo in the top right that there’s a readability section with a grade, a word count, and a “show more” arrow. Click the “show more” arrow to pull up the full range of statistics that Hemingway offers. These include:
- Reading time
These statistics are fairly self-explanatory, and they can be handy when editing your pieces. Reading time, in particular, is useful for determining how long a reader is likely to stay on your page (when writing for the web). This is an important ranking factor for SEO, so pay close attention.
But the coolest feature (and my personal favorite) is the grade score.
Hemingway assigns your writing a grade based on the Automated Readability Index or ATI. This is the same index used to analyze texts for schools. In other words, the rating mimics the legibility of your text as it compares to the US school system. Grade 6 through 8 represents junior high. Grade 9 through 12 represents high school. Anything below that represents grammar school.
Like I mentioned earlier, most Americans read at a junior high level. To keep your writing as accessible as possible, aim for a grade score between 6 and 8.
Edit Like a Pro
Whether you use Hemingway Editor to write and edit, or simply edit, the software offers a clean, intuitive UI with all the necessary features.
The highlights are a brilliant way to showcase parts of your writing that need improving. They’re easy to read and disappear instantly once fixed. For some extra functionality, blue and purple highlights bring up a box with recommended fixes when you hover over them. This takes care of some of the legwork for you (you’ll have to manually edit passive voice and clunky sentences, though).
My take, in regards to this Hemingway Editor review? While Hemingway Editor isn’t full-fledged grammar-correcting software, it does what it intends to, and it does it well.
To that end, Hemingway Editor is perfect for tightening up your prose and simplifying run-on sentences that always seem to get ahead of you.
Hemingway Editor Review: Free vs. Paid Version
Next in our Hemingway Editor review is the issue of free vs. paid versions of the app.
Everything we’ve discussed so far in this Hemingway App review is available to you on the web application, absolutely free.
But there is also a paid version of Hemingway Editor, and you can grab a copy for just $19.95. It offers all the features from the free version, with a few notable extras.
|Write & Edit Modes||✔||✔|
|Import & Export||✔|
First off, the paid version is a desktop app, and it’s available for macOS and Windows. Moreover, you can use it anywhere, anytime — no internet connection required.
Already have writing that you now need to edit? Import your documents directly from plain text, markdown, web page, or MS Word format. Then, once you’re done editing, export your document into any of the following formats:
- Plain text
- Web page
- Word document
- PDF document
You can also export and publish directly to Medium and WordPress (albeit with some difficulty — I’ll get to that in a minute).
Lastly, the paid edition gives you access to PDFs with Hemingway Highlights. This feature lets you export PDF documents with highlighted editing recommendations. Send these PDFs to colleagues or students to offer them advice on how they can improve their writing. This feature saves a lot of time and resources when working with lots of writers. And, for the most part, the edit recommendations are on-point.
Hemingpay for Hemingway?
Now it’s down to the nitty gritty financials of our Hemingway Editor review. Is the paid version really worth it?
For a one-time fee of $19.99, there’s no glaring reason not to buy it if you’re seriously interested. That said, the paid version offers little extra functionality for casual users.
Hemingway Editor is a simple program with few frills. There aren’t many new features the developers could add without changing what the program is meant to be and do. For that reason, it’s not actively developed (new releases only appear every few years), so you shouldn’t expect consistent updates as new AI technology becomes available.
The other downside to buying it is the lousy customer service.
After I purchased a copy of the paid version for macOS, I reached out to the developers for support regarding the WordPress publishing feature. The desktop app wasn’t syncing with my website, and I couldn’t seem to troubleshoot the error.
I emailed the developers twice about the issue. About a month after I sent the first email (an entire month!), I received a response. Unfortunately, WordPress integration doesn’t work when your website uses SSL encryption (most sites do nowadays). While I was offered a refund, this seriously bummed me out, as WordPress integration was a significant selling point for me. The lackluster customer service also bummed me out.
I declined the refund, as the app is worth $20 to me, even without WordPress publishing.
In particular, the paid desktop version can be a real boon for freelancers and organizations. The export options and Hemingway Highlight PDFs, especially, can come in handy under various circumstances. I’ve used both of these features for clients since I purchased the app, and to great effect.
Still, for the everyday user (and what I expect is the vast majority of users), the free version is the way to go.
Hemingway Editor Review: Verdict
What’s the verdict of our Hemingway Editor review?
Overall, Hemingway Editor’s editing capabilities are rudimentary compared to other popular online editors. Even with the extra functionality on the desktop app, Hemingway is an extraordinarily simple program.
Is Hemingway Editor anything to write home about? Probably not. Is it a useful addition to your writing arsenal? Absolutely.
Hemingway Editor excels at trimming the fat from your writing before publishing. It also catches glaring errors, and it’s ideal for processing lots of text in a hurry. Not to mention, the browser version is entirely free, which is hard to beat.
My recommendation? If you’re on a tight budget, pair it with the free Grammarly extension for a powerhouse combo that’s sure to make your writing simpler and easier to read.
Trust me — your readers will thank you!