Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2015

Hemingway Editor

Create clear, cohesive writing with easy-to-use online editor

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Highlights common errors and helps readers be aware of simple fixes for better readability.

Cons: Bare-bones editing feedback isn't always correct; make changes at your own discretion.

Bottom Line: Measure readability of a piece and change language to push out strong pieces of writing.

Hemingway Editor will best help students improve their writing if it's paired with supplemental help from a teacher or a site with grammar and writing resources like Purdue OWL. High school students can use this site for nearly any writing assignment, and they likely know what things like passive voice and weak adverbs are and why they should omit them from their writing. Yet, middle school writers may need some scaffolding along the way. Teachers may want to create mini-lessons centered on the four aspects of writing Hemingway Editor will look to correct: awkward language, weak adverbs, simpler wording, and passive voice. The site could also be helpful with peer revision, allowing peer editors to sift through the site’s suggestions to discuss their usefulness with the writer.

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Hemingway Editor is both a website and an app that writers can use to improve their craft. Used for writers of all ages, the site allows writers to type directly into the tool or copy and paste previously written pieces. Once your writing is complete or pasted in, a helpful counter indicates the number of paragraphs, sentences, words, characters, and letters, in addition to the time it would take an average reader to read the text. Once editing mode is activated, the site will identify common writing errors in the text by color-coding them: Different-colored highlighting  flags difficult-to-read sentences, adverbs, phrases in the passive voice, and words that could be written more simply. The editing mode also generates a readability score,  rating the writing with a coinciding grade level. 

The writer need not heed all of the site's flagged passages, but the advice can spur writers to consider their words in a new way. Keep in mind that the editor will tell writers what to change, but it won't indicate why that change would be desirable.

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This tool was created for writers of all ages, and it's simple to use: Cut and paste your writing in the editor or type directly into the text box on the site, then click to get feedback. Although it wasn't created for educational settings, Hemingway Editor would be even more helpful if it flagged the reasons behind the edits it recommends. As it is, the editor lacks a bit in its helpfulness for young writers -- or any less-confident writers, really -- because it only tells writers what to change, not why or how to change it. More info on why writers should avoid the passive voice, for example, would help boost  this tool's utility in the classroom and its potential as a learning tool.

Editing and revision are key to developing writing skills; while this tool offers some feedback, its lack of context and explanation might not offer kids the kind of detailed response that would stick with them and help them compose their next big writing assignment. As it is, this is a nice way to spell-check and spot-check a piece of writing, but look elsewhere for more nuanced, scaffolded feedback to  help kids develop their writing skills.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

What student wouldn't want to be a better writer? Simple, engaging design will empower students to easily see which changes they can make to improve their writing.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Although the concept here is great, the site will only tell students what to change, not why to change it. Richer feedback would help students better target their work and hone their skills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The site's pretty straightforward to use, but there isn't much help to support the experience. Teachers should supplement instruction to help students understand which changes to make and why.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sara J. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Fort Bend ISD
Sugar Land, TX
More for fun than any serious feedback on quality writing

The only place where I see this being valuable would be for journalism. Being succinct and using active voice are hallmarks. When it comes to mimicking an author's style there is more to it than syntax, length, and avoiding adverbs. Style is a complex thing and the website is not going to be able to replicate it.

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