Don’t worry editors, this isn’t a blog post about making your jobs obsolete. Nothing can replace the skills of a seasoned editor. Not even the most sophisticated bot or online editing tool can accurately check for deviations from a company’s in-house style guide, or understand all the nuances of the human language.
There’s slang, context, and homophones that must be taken into consideration. And what editing chatbot would ever consider “Cash Me Outside How Bow Dah,” an actual phrase? (Yes, sadly it’s real.)
But sometimes when you’re in a time crunch and need to send an email or report, an editor might not be available. When you must quickly check your grammar, an editing tool can be a life-saver.
Don’t hit send or upload that document until you’ve used one or more of these editing tools.
1. Associated Press Stylebook, Apps, and Extensions
Whether you’re a journalist or just love Associated Press style, AP offers a variety of tools to help you follow their style rules.
There’s the journalist’s bible The AP Stylebook, a comprehensive guide to all things AP (e.g. capitalization, abbreviation, proper names, etc). You can grab last year’s copy The 2016 AP Stylebook ($22.95), available in print or digital, or wait until the 2017 edition comes out.
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And did we mention your copy also comes with a bonus feature: the AP Stylebook mobile app? Download the app to your mobile device, and reference your AP Stylebook on the go whenever, wherever, ensuring your content is always in style.
If extensions are your jam, there’s the AP Lingofy extension ($69.99). Lingofy proofreads text in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. And if you need your Word docs and Outlook emails checked, too, AP StyleGuard has got you covered.
For $59.99 each (there are Word and Outlook versions), you’ll have the peace of mind that your emails and Word doc attachments meet the Associated Press’ standards. Hallelujah.
For those times you have a question that can’t be addressed by the aforementioned tools, AP presents “Ask the Editor.” For $26 annually (per individual subscription) you’ll have access to an archive of more than 26,000 answered questions. No question is off limits. Want to know if you should capitalize alternative facts? Go for it.
Source: AP Stylebook
We have a feeling your question is probably lurking somewhere in there.
Available on both desktop and mobile, Ginger is a software editing tool that offers more than just grammar checking. There’s also a Sentence Rephraser which provides writers with different suggestions on how to phrase their text, improving clarity.
Those who write in multiple languages will appreciate the Translator feature, too. Ginger will scan your text to make sure your Spanish is grammatically correct.
Ever wonder how a text message sounds to the person on the receiving end? Wonder no more. Ginger’s Text Reader will play back how your text message sounds to the recipient.
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So, here’s the interesting part: cost. Android users are in luck (Ginger favors you), your cost is free. But iPhone and/or iPad users will have to cough up a one-time $3.99 fee for a lifetime subscription.
3. Hemingway App
When you want to make sure your writing is bold and clear, look no further than the free Hemingway App. Hemingway is super easy to use. Simply click the Write tab, then copy and paste give your text into the blank field, and click Edit. Next, Hemingway will give you a Readability Grade.
The Readability Grade breaks down how long it takes you to read the text, plus the number of letters, characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs. And if you’re worried about inadvertently writing in passive voice, Hemingway will call you out.
Here is an example of the Hemingway App in action, using an excerpt from my blog post article about chatbots.
Source: Hemingway App
Pretty cool, huh? And look at that, no use of passive voice. Score!
4. Nurtz Bot
Teams who already use Slack, may want to give Nurtz a try. Dubbed a “proofreading concierge” that can integrate with Slack, Nurtz is an editing chatbot powered by human editors.
That’s right, there is no editing chatbot yet that can operate autonomously. (Editors everywhere sigh in relief.) And for folks who only trust the sharp eyes of an editor, it’s comforting to know a real one is operating the chatbot.
So, here’s how Nurtz works. Using Slack, anyone on your team can message the Nurtz bot to proofread an email, abstract, or other piece of text. Paragraphs are typically edited and returned within five to 15 minutes. Pricing is $0.02 per word, and the first 100 words are completely free.
Nurtz definitely sounds like it has great potential. But we wanted to include a disclaimer. We did a little digging and see the company is based out of the Ukraine. So, we’re not entirely sure if their editors are native English speakers. Also something else to keep in mind, there are dialects unique to each country, and a bot or software used for editing may not pick up on that (unlike a real editor).
We saved the best for last. Okay, we’re a little biased, but we love Grammarly. From their informative and sassy grammar focused articles, to their Chrome extension, Grammarly is a grammarist’s dream.
Grammarly’s free Chrome extension will scan your text for proper use of more than 250 advanced grammar rules. It also has a Contextual Spelling Checker (e.g. affect vs effect), plus Vocabulary Enhancement, which suggests word choice options to improve readability.
There’s also a free plagiarism checker, too.
In a perfect world, always have an editor look over your text. But for those editing emergencies, these five tools are a great way to prevent committing a grammar crime.