Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Writing better with Hemingway

Screenshot of Hemingway showing this blog post

Writing for the web is a skill, especially if you want to cater for a wide audience. Not everyone has a good grasp of English; for many, it is not their first language. For others, they may have learning disabilities or happened to leave school at a young age. Either way, if you use complicated language and sentence structures, then some people may struggle to read what you write.

Enter Hemingway. It’s a very simple web app with just a home page. You copy and paste your text into it, and it will suggest some ways that you can improve the readability of your reading. This includes:

  • Breaking up long sentences that might be hard to read.
  • Using simpler phrases.
  • Reducing adverbs.
  • Avoiding passive voice.

Hemingway won’t rewrite your text for you. If you want to make changes, then that is up to you. Hemingway’s role is to make suggestions, by highlighting words and sentences. It will then explain why it has done so, allowing you to make corrections. There is also an overall grade for your writing, which roughly corresponds with the school grade required to comprehend the text. The lower this is, the easier it is to read your piece. And there is a word count, which can then be expanded to show how many sentences you have written, and how long it might take someone to read it.

Hemingway’s text editor supports rich text, so you won’t lose formatting. There is also a desktop client for Windows and Mac, which costs $10 and allows you to import and export from Microsoft Word. You can also export text in the Markdown format, to import into another app which supports it.

After you follow Hemingway’s suggestions, you may find that your text seems ‘dumbed down’. But it will be more readable by those who are less proficient in English.

One Comment

  1. Simple English is not dumb, it is the most beautiful form of the language. You might like William Zinsser’s article