The Hemingway app is an editing tool that evaluates the quality of the writing. Ernest Hemingway was known for his concise writing style that flowed well and was easy to read. This editor goes a more in-depth than most others to help writers achieve that concise style.
Writers love its visual approach, and they consistently report their writing has improved. At the same time, it’s easy to be skeptical about an app that makes such stylistic suggestions. In our Hemingway app review, we took an in-depth look at its functionality to find its strengths and weaknesses.
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Hemingway App: Pros & Cons
Hemingway App Review: Key Features
The app seems simple on-the-surface, but when you start to use it, you see the bells and whistles. We uncovered five main reasons a writer would love using this app.
The first topic of this Hemingway app review is the color-coded suggestions. The app highlights sentences that need editing, using different colors for different reasons. This color-coded approach allows you to see at-a-glance how much work you have to do. Seeing an excess of one color helps you know where your consistent problems lie so you can work on it in the future.
The app uses five colors to highlight five potential errors:
- Blue – adverb use
- Green – passive voice
- Purple – simpler alternatives available
- Yellow – sentences are difficult to read
- Red – sentences are very difficult to read
The pastel tones are easy on the eyes, and each highlight appears as soon as a sentence becomes a problem. The instant gratification helps you detect the precise point the sentence went wrong. The detailed explanations promote self-correction, which makes for a smooth, manageable editing process.
One caveat with these highlights is not to get too caught up in eliminating them. There are times when the app’s suggestions change the meaning of sentences. Adverbs and passive voice are always highlighted, even when they’re necessary. The app also seems to have an inherent dislike for sentences longer than twenty-five words or so. This can be a benefit for writers who love a good run-on sentence, but it can be difficult to write a compound sentence that clears its highlighter.
On top of highlighting your mistakes, the Hemingway app review keeps a running total of them. When you copy and paste a piece of writing into the app, you have a full count of each type of error. As you edit, you get to watch the number of errors go down. This can be especially satisfying for the writer with a meticulous eye.
While the app does highlight all use of passive voice and adverbs, it gives you goals to meet based on the word count. It may suggest less than ten adverbs in a 500-word piece, and it tells you if you’ve met that goal. This feature seems to recognize that you will sometimes need to use adverbs or passive voice. Alerting you to each instance helps you decide when you need it and when you can do without.
Another number to watch for when using the app is the readability score. The lower the score, the simpler your prose. When the numbers start to get higher than 10, the app informs you that the quality is “OK.” It assumes that a higher reading level is a problem since the goal is to compose clear writing that’s easy to read.
Lastly, the app fulfills a key feature of most word processors. It keeps count of your words, characters, sentences, and paragraphs. It also gives the amount of time it will take the average person to read your piece.
Next in the Hemingway app review is the review options. Even with the app’s streamlined design, you do still have ample formatting options. A toolbar along the top gives you access to bold and italic text, as well as three heading styles. Bullets and numbers enable you to structure your piece as intended, and you can add links when needed. You also have a “quote” button available, which indents the text with quotations.
With these formatting options, the app functions more like a full word processor. It becomes a place where you can compose, instead of just a grammar checker.
Write Mode Vs. Edit Mode
Along with the formatting options, the app’s two distinct modes make it more useful. It can be constrained to have someone highlight your mistakes as you can write them. The app’s developers understood this. With “write” mode, all the highlights become invisible, and your numerical tracking disappears. This way you can focus on getting your ideas in writing without worrying about the quality. When the draft is complete, you shift to the “edit” mode and start correcting your mistakes.
The modes are accessed via a toggle in the top right corner of the screen. Going back and forth is seamless so you can work as unrestrained as possible.
Publishing And Sharing Options
Once you complete your work, you have a myriad of options to publish to the web. The app links up with WordPress so you can blog almost immediately. If you use a different web application to publish your work, you also have the option to export as HTML. The file will maintain any formatting you’ve applied.
Another great feature is its cooperation with Microsoft Word. You can import text straight from Word without having to copy and paste. When you’re finished, you export back to Word to save as .docx as needed.
Desktop Version Vs. Online Version
There are two versions of this app available. The online version is free, but the desktop version comes in with a price. The online version has much of the same functionality, but it lacks the key component of saving your work. It’s far too easy to lose your work if you accidentally close your browser or navigate to a new page.
Because you’re unable to save your work, you also miss out on the export and publication options. You also need an internet connection, whereas the desktop version will function offline. Still, using the free version allows you to try it out before you buy it, and because it’s online, you can use it anywhere.
Hemingway App Review: Disadvantages
Regardless of its many benefits, you can’t discount the fact that it is still a computer doing the work. The app is unable to read the context, and it’s unable to take into account the flow of the entire piece. While the app may like a string of simple sentences, a reader may get bored with the predictability. The app is also unable to judge paragraph length, which is another area many new writers struggle.
While the app generally does a good job of finding errors, it does not seem to detect missing words. Writers often leave out small words as their brain gets ahead of them and because readers tend to fill in the gaps.
Errors like these are difficult to catch for humans, but we expect an app that reads for clarity to find them. It also doesn’t highlight sentence fragments or incomplete phrases.
For the insecure writer, it’s easy to rely too much on the app and assume that a clean document is perfect. While it’s a good starting point, nothing can replace the discernible eye of a human reader.
As expected, many users have copied and pasted Hemingway’s original prose into the app to see how it holds up. Most passages are inundated with red and yellow highlights and a high number of adverbs. The average readability grade comes in around 14, which is not very good by the Hemingway editor’s standards. It’s ironic that the app’s namesake is judged so poorly.
Would Hemingway Pass The Test?
Users have also put other historical authors to the test with similar results. While this could be telling of the app’s misgivings, it also shows how writing has changed. Our language has evolved, and the written word has attempted to keep up with it.
What To Recommend From This Hemingway App Review
As an educational tool, the Hemingway app review shows its merits. It teaches writers how to construct sentences that are easy to read without being too wordy. Once a writer has put their work through the editor, they understand their weaknesses. Not only does this help them edit that particular piece, but it trains new habits for improvement.
While it excels in showing a writer how to simplify, it misses some common errors that an editor would catch. It’s still important to read over work to find typos, incomplete phrasing or missing words. From a stylistic standpoint, the Hemingway app does not judge the piece as a whole. It evaluates each sentence, but it cannot tell you if one sentence flows into the next. It cannot tell you if the content is well-structured with proper paragraphing.
When you take its editing features out of the equation, the app is a nice word processor. It’s not too busy, and the ability to remove the sidebar in “write” mode simplifies the appearance even more.
Ultimately, the Hemingway app is more thorough than some of its competitors. Its sleek design is easy on the eyes, and it functions well as a basic word processor. However, while the app is a good starting point, it doesn’t take the place of a human editor.