- Hemingway can be a powerful tool for streamlining your writing style
- The free online platform is excellent for editing shorter pieces
- If you tend to write in longer, more complex sentences, Hemingway will push you to be clear and punchy in your writing
- Great for assessing the readability and complexity of your work
- Not great for manuscript writing or longer pieces
- Grammar capabilities don’t measure up to Grammarly or ProWritingAid
- Doesn’t offer the plotting, formatting, or organizational tools of software like Scrivener
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a free way to hone your style without much grammatical help, Hemingway could work for you. However, I still think there are better overall tools on the market.
This is one of a series of posts about editor software, professional editors, and editing in general.
Table of contents
- How Much Does Hemingway Editor Cost? Free vs. Paid
- Hemingway vs. Grammarly vs. ProWritingAid
- How to Use Hemingway Editor Online
- Why I Still Choose ProWritingAid Over Hemingway
This Hemingway app review is the best way to discover what the word processor can do without learning it the hard way.
I’ve often heard about my fellow authors using Hemingway to finetune their writing.
Unlike ProWritingAid, Hemingway isn’t an in-depth virtual writing tutor.
What does the Hemingway app do? The Hemingway app aims to tighten up your words, making them more concise and impactful.
How does it stack up against other writing tools? After using it for myself, I put together this full Hemingway editor review so you can make an informed decision.
- How to understand the suggestions Hemingway makes
- What grade level to write at, and why it matters
- How Hemingway stacks up against other big names like Grammarly and ProWritingAid
- What I suggest as the best editing tool for your manuscript
Links in this article may earn me a small commission if you use them to purchase a product. This is at no cost to you. It helps me continue writing these handy articles that anyone can read for free!
What is the Hemingway editor?
Hemingway, named after the master of literary brevity himself, aims to “make your writing bold and clear.” It isn’t an in-depth grammar checker or writing coach, like Grammarly or ProWritingAid.
Instead, Hemingway is a minimalist but powerful writing software tool to improve style and substance.
When you either paste your writing into the Hemingway editor environment or write directly within, it highlights your work using different colors. Each color corresponds to a different type of improvement Hemingway suggests to be a better writer.
Hemingway editor has an algorithm that makes color-coded suggestions.
- Yellow Sentences: These sentences Hemingway identifies as lengthy or structurally complex. Hemingway suggests splitting or simplifying yellow highlighted sentences.
- Red Sentences: Hemingway feels this sentence structure may confuse readers due to length or complex phrasing. Rework these sentences until the red highlight vanishes.
- Purple Words: The chosen color here is an in-joke for writers. Purple words have a more suitable, simpler alternative. Hover over them to see Hemingway's suggestion.
- Blue Words: Blue words are adverbs that may signal weak or hesitant language. Hemingway feels these should be omitted.
- Green Phrases: Green indicates passive voice. While this may be appropriate in some contexts, active voice usually makes a more powerful statement.
System Requirements for Hemingway Editor
Free Version: Hemingway’s free version works on virtually all standard web browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. There are virtually no requirements for using the free version of Hemingway.
Speaking of web browsers, If you want to learn how to use Chrome well, check out my video on Incognito mode:
Paid Version: Hemingway’s paid desktop app is compatible with Mac and Windows on their current operating systems. It’s also available offline.
Browser Extensions/Plugins: Hemingway doesn’t offer plugins or extensions on any browser at this time. Hemingway also doesn't offer any mobile apps or keyboards for phones.
How Much Does Hemingway Editor Cost? Free vs. Paid
Is Hemingway editor free? The online version of Hemingway Editor is completely free. The creators have indicated they intend to keep it this way.
The desktop version, Hemingway App, is available for a one-time payment of $19.99. The price is the same for both Windows and Mac. Purchasing Hemingway software also entitles you to free upgrades whenever they are available.
Here's how the free online Hemingway editor compares to the paid downloadable writing app:
Hemingway Editor vs Hemingway App
|Hemingway Online Editor||Hemingway App|
|Price||Free||$19.99 (one time)|
|Ability to Save and Export?||No||Yes|
|Full Hemingway Analysis?||Yes||Yes|
|Ability to Publish Directly?||Yes||Yes|
|Export Formats Offered?||N/A||Text, PDF, Word, HTML, Markdown|
|Direct Publishing Options?||N/A||Medium or WordPress|
For our next test, let's see how Hemingway compares to similar writing solutions, like Grammarly and ProWritingAid.
Hemingway vs. Grammarly vs. ProWritingAid
Hemingway is a less robust software than either Grammarly or ProWritingAid. However, it’s also available at a much lower price and is good at the limited scope of what it aims to do.
Comparing these 3 services, there is no clear winner. Each has its own strengths, price point, and editorial capabilities.
Is Hemingway’s editor good? Hemingway’s editor is good for getting style and writing analysis on a budget.
If you’re looking for an affordable editing option, Hemingway will tighten up the style of almost any writer. The free version is a risk-free way to see if Hemingway is right for you, and the full version is excellent value at only $19.99 for lifetime access.
|Price||$20 Lifetime Access||$140 Per Year||$168 Lifetime Access (with Kindlepreneur Coupon)|
|Writing Analysis Capability||2nd||3rd||1st|
|Style Improvement Capability||2nd||3rd||1st|
|Check It Out||Check It Out!||Check It Out!|
The grammar suggestions are usually better on ProWritingAid; however, I think Grammarly has a better handle on comma use and placement.
Is Hemingway better than Grammarly? I find Hemingway is better than Grammarly for writing analysis and style improvement. However, Grammarly does live up to its name with better grammatical suggestions.
As you can see, ProWritingAid is more fully-featured than either of the other two options. However, if you’re on a budget or don’t require the full functionality of ProWritingAid, Hemingway editor is a good starting point.
*Remember that if you do get ProWritingAid, be sure you add the 20% off coupon code below:
How to Use Hemingway Editor Online
How does the Hemingway editor work? The Hemingway editor works by highlighting words, phrases, and formatting that could be improved. Hemingway editor, like its namesake, opts for short, descriptive, and clear writing suggestions.
Hemingway editor can be used in 2 ways:
- Free: Use the online Hemingway editor.
- Paid: Use the downloadable Hemingway desktop app.
For this post, I’ll be talking about the free online editor.
When you go to the Hemingway online environment, you see the following screen:
The online Hemingway editor offers 2 modes:
- Write. ‘Write‘ is used for distraction-free composition in a minimalist writing environment.
- Edit. This is where Hemingway highlights potential improvements and assesses the readability and clarity of your work.
When composing in Hemingway’s ‘write' mode, the screen looks like this:
While you may choose to compose short pieces in the Hemingway writing environment, I wouldn’t recommend it.
There is no login or cloud backup for your work. If your browser crashes or something else goes wrong, you lose anything you’ve composed.
By clicking on the Edit option, you access the full range of Hemingway’s analysis capabilities for your piece of writing.
The edit option consists of 3 sections:
- Formatting options at the top of the screen.
- Colored highlights of your text in the center of the screen, indicating the type of improvements Hemingway thinks you should make. This can help everything from correcting weak verbs to splitting up run-on sentences.
- Summary of Hemingway’s findings on the right hand of the screen.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the 3 sections.
1. Formatting Options
Hemingway offers the formatting options like various headings, bold and italic text, and attention-catchers like bullets, quotes, and numbered lists.
This is useful for bloggers. You can tidy up your writing style in Hemingway and then use the above formatting options to get your text totally ready for publication.
2. Colored Highlights
The website or app highlights sentences that may contain common errors.
Yellow highlights indicate long sentences that are hard to read. Hemingway suggests shortening or splitting them.
A sentence highlighted in red indicates it is tough to read. These are very complex sentences, similar to yellow but more confusing or unclear.
Words highlighted in purple indicate an unnecessarily complex word. When you hover your mouse over a purple word, Hemingway suggests simpler alternatives, as seen below.
When a word is highlighted in blue, Hemingway feels it is weak or generic.
By hovering over a blue word with your mouse, you see Hemingway’s suggestion to improve it.
Above, Hemingway suggests an improvement for an adverb.
Above, Hemingway suggests a way to strengthen the use of a qualifier.
Green highlights indicate the use of the passive voice. While this is a good option for some sentences, overusing the passive voice can make your writing seem timid.
3. Summary Of Findings
Hemingway editing tool provides a summary of your data on the right of the screen. This offers the following information.
Hemingway analyzes your text to assess its grade level and readability score.
According to Hemingway’s creators, the average American has a 10th-grade reading level. Ensuring your writing is at or below this readability grade level will make it accessible to the average American. You may also use this grading to write appropriately for higher- or lower-reading-level audiences.
While this may feel limiting, remember that Ernest Hemingway’s words are assessed as being the 5th-grade level. Clear language does not diminish the power or quality of your writing.
Hemingway displays a word count for your text.
By clicking on ‘Show More,’ the following information is displayed.
I particularly like the reading time feature here. Many popular blogs and print magazines offer this information, so having Hemingway calculate it for you is beneficial.
Number Of Adverbs
Hemingway displays the number of adverbs featured in your text. It uses this number to calculate whether it is an acceptable number based on the length of your writing.
Use Of Passive Voice
Hemingway shows how often you use the passive voice and calculates how often it should be used, based on the length of your writing. For more information on using passive voice, click here.
Shows the number of simpler alternatives Hemingway suggests for the text you have written.
Hard To Read Sentences
The number of yellow sentences identified by Hemingway.
Very Hard To Read Sentences
The number of red sentences identified by Hemingway.
The above data combine to offer a lean and helpful summary of your text. You can see how to improve your piece of writing and where you tend to go astray. Perhaps you’re a passive voice fan or choose too many adverbs instead of riveting verbs.
This analysis of your tendencies can be one of the most helpful parts of Hemingway’s feedback.
Why I Still Choose ProWritingAid Over Hemingway
Hemingway is simple and easy to use. However, for the best overall tool, I’d choose ProWritingAid. The perks outweigh any other software for me because:
- It’s like having a writing tutor. It offers in-depth insight into your strengths and weaknesses that no other software does.
- ProWritingAid can be tailored to your particular style of writing.
- It is a superb value for lifetime access when using the exclusive Kindlepreneur coupon (code KINDLEPRENEUR20).
If you’re a casual writer who can handle a limited level of functionality, or you’re writing on a budget, then Hemingway may be worth your time.
However, if you want the best of the bunch for authors and other long-form writers, ProWritingAid reigns supreme.
Will you use Hemingway editor?
You now understand what Hemingway editor is, how it can help you, and how it stacks up to rival products on the market.
Is the Hemingway app worth it? The Hemingway app can be worth it if your main expectations are writing and style analysis, not grammatical perfection.
Just to remind you:
- Hemingway aims to tighten and improve your writing style.
- It has a free version and a paid downloadable version.
- I still suggest ProWritingAid as the best overall solution. (Use my link for 20% off.)
Have you used Hemingway? Do you prefer it to the other options out there? Hit me up in the comments and let me know your thoughts! I keep up with your thoughts and feedback long after these posts are published.