10 content editing tools that will help you write better content
People are often surprised when I tell them I’m all for using content editing tools.
“But don’t they make editors like you, ah, kind of redundant?” they ask.
My answer? Nope, not at all.
There are lots of benefits of hiring an editor for your business, and no, I don’t think any tool will ever replace the value of having a REAL person review your words.
But if hiring an editor isn’t in your budget right now, or for whatever reason you prefer to edit your own content, there are lots of content editing tools that can help you refine and polish your words – many of which I use myself!
Here are my top 10 recommendations (in no particular order) for content editing tools that’ll help you write better content for your business.
If you write content for your business, or write anything at all really, you’ve probably heard of Grammarly.
It’s one of the most well-known and popular grammar checkers out there, used by tens of millions of people every day.
Because it uses AI technology, Grammarly is more powerful than the spellcheckers built into programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs (which I think most people would agree aren’t particularly helpful!).
The thing I like about Grammarly is that it’s available as a Chrome extension, which means it provides real-time feedback in web-based programs like Google Docs, Gmail and even Facebook.
It’s also available as an add-in for Microsoft Word, so you can check your writing directly in the document without needing to switch to another program.
What worries me about Grammarly though is when I hear people say they use it as their ONLY form of editing.
While it can be useful for highlighting potential problems, it doesn’t replace the need to do other editing steps, like:
- reading your content aloud
- allowing at least one day between writing and editing your content
- asking at least one other person to read your content before you publish it (not always possible I know, but you’ll be amazed what other people pick up!).
Also, in my experience, tools like Grammarly aren’t always accurate, and the suggestions they make don’t always make sense given your target audience or brand voice.
So, if you do use a tool like Grammarly, I recommend you check the suggested changes are (a) accurate and (b) the right fit for your content.
2. Hemingway App
Unlike Grammarly, Hemingway App doesn’t highlight typos and grammar mistakes (although if you use it together with the Grammarly Chrome extension, you can check for those things too).
Instead, it’s focused on finding things that can make your writing hard to read, like passive voice, complex sentences and using too many adverbs.
Based on these factors, the app gives you a readability grade that shows the lowest level of education someone needs to understand your writing.
If you’re writing for a general audience, aim for a grade of 10 or lower, as research shows the average Australian reads at a Year 10 level (around 15 years of age).
The app also suggests ways to simplify your writing, and you can make these changes in the program to see how they change your grade.
PerfectIt is a professional proofreading tool used by many editors – and it’s a game changer when it comes to consistency.
Being consistent with things like your spelling, formatting, punctuation and capitalisation is so important if you want your content to be seen as professional and trustworthy.
But checking these things is tedious and time-consuming – not to mention prone to human error!
And that’s where PerfectIt comes in.
As an add-in feature for Microsoft Word, PerfectIt searches your content for inconsistencies, both within the document itself and with your country’s style conventions.
This saves a lot of time, allowing you or your editor to focus on the bigger picture, like getting your structure, words and meaning right.
At around $AU90 for a year’s subscription, PerfectIt might not be necessary if you only write shorter pieces of content.
But if you’re self-editing a long-form piece like a white paper, report, an ebook or an actual book, it could be worth investing in.
ProWritingAid works similarly to Grammarly, highlighting potential problems as you write.
But with 20 different reports that check not only your grammar and spelling but also things like readability, overused words, structure, style and consistency, it’s far more comprehensive – kind of like Grammarly, Hemingway App and PerfectIt all rolled into one.
Like Grammarly, PerfectIt is available as a Chrome extension and also as an add-on for programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
I don’t think it works quite as well in Google Docs, as you have to open a pop-up window to review the reports and suggestions.
The amount of information you get about your writing can also be a little overwhelming, especially if you haven’t used the tool before.
But if you’re looking for a program that’ll not only help you improve your content but also help you become a better writer, ProWritingAid could be a great option for you.
And with the premium version costing less than the Grammarly equivalent, ProWritingAid might well be the dark horse of content editing tools.
5. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
Your heading is one of if not the most important part of any piece of content, particularly if it’s going online.
It not only encourages people to click on whatever it is you’ve written, but also helps make sure the right people find it, provided it’s optimised for Google.
But writing headlines that are both catchy and optimised for your chosen keyword is tricky.
And if this is something you struggle with, I recommend checking out CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer.
It’s a handy tool that scores your headline based on a number of different factors, including how long it is, how many ‘power’ words it includes, and whether it’s clear and concise.
There’s also a paid version that unlocks a few more features, including an SEO score and how your headline compares to your competitors.
6. A dictionary
Okay, I know it might seem a bit obvious, but I refer to a dictionary (in my case, the Macquarie Dictionary Online) at least once (and usually many times) every time I write or edit something.
And it astounds me how many people don’t!
Now I know what you’re probably thinking – why not just google it?
Well, the problem with googling whatever word it is you’re trying to spell is that the results might not reflect your country’s way of spelling things.
And if you don’t spell words in the way your target audience expects, or if there are inconsistencies in your spelling, this can cause niggles of doubt that might affect the trustworthiness of your content.
That’s why I recommend choosing ONE dictionary and referring to it whenever you need help spelling something.
Spelling isn’t the only thing dictionaries are useful for, either.
They’re also great for checking:
- whether a word is hyphenated or not
- whether a word should be capitalised or not
- whether a word means what you think it means
- whether a word is actually a word at all.
And a pro tip: if a word doesn’t appear in your chosen dictionary, check urbandictionary.com. Even though a word may not have gone mainstream yet, it might still be totally appropriate given the context and target audience.
If you’ve ever wondered, “what’s another word for that?”, you should definitely check out WordHippo.
It’s a free online thesaurus that delivers an extraordinary amount of synonyms for any word you pop into it (seriously, it’s amazing), as well as antonyms, rhyming words and even translations.
The rhyming words feature in particular is helpful if you’re trying to add a bit of creativity to your writing.
Compared to some of the other tools mentioned in this article, WordHippo has quite a basic interface.
But don’t let that put you off. It’s a powerful tool, and using it will mean you’re never left scrambling for a word again!
8. Australian Government Style Manual (or your country’s equivalent)
The Australian Government Style Manual was first published in 1966 (with many iterations along the way) and has long been regarded as Australia’s ‘official’ style guide.
Up until recently, it was only available as a hard-copy book, and I’m not sure too many people outside of the public service were aware of it.
But a digital version was finally launched in 2020, providing a comprehensive guide to Australian style conventions as well as guidance on things like inclusive language, voice and tone, and plain language principles.
While it’s still described as a resource for people who write, edit, approve or review Australian Government content, I think it’s a handy resource for anyone who writes or edits content for an Australian audience.
The section on inclusive language is especially useful, with examples of words and phrases to avoid (and what to use instead).
If you’re not based in Australia or don’t write for an Australian audience, this resource probably won’t be too helpful for you.
9. Google Docs
Google Docs isn’t technically a content editing tool, but I’ve still included it in my top 10 list.
Why? Because it’s an excellent tool for collaborating on your content, and a great platform to write and edit your content in, even if you’re the only person on your content team.
With an in-built version history, there’s no need to save different versions of the same file to your hard drive.
Google Docs also automatically saves your file as you go, so there’s no risk of losing 2 hours of work when your computer crashes just as you finally finish that first draft 😱
What I really like about Google Docs though is that you can easily share your content with other people in your team and see their edits and comments in real time.
This is a massive time-saver if you’re working to a deadline, or if you want to avoid the headache of emailing different versions back and forth over email.
You can also add links to your files in project management systems like Asana and ClickUp, making it easier to create workflows and outsource parts of your content creation.
10. Yoast SEO plugin
If you write blog posts or other web content for your business, optimising them for Google is important so people can actually find them (and therefore find you!).
And if you use WordPress to publish your content, the Yoast SEO plugin is a must-have tool to use.
Yoast checks that your content includes your primary keyword in all the important places, including your H1 heading, your meta description and in the first 100 words of your post.
It then presents your results in a traffic light format, with green meaning you’re good to go and orange meaning you’ve still got some work to do.
I don’t recommend drafting your content directly in WordPress because you won’t have access to the other tools mentioned above.
But Yoast is a good final check to make sure your content is working as hard as it can for your business (and with the standard version being completely free, there’s really no excuse not to use it!).
So which content editing tool is right for you?
Choosing which content editing tools are right for you depends on a few things, including:
- how much editing your content needs
- how much time you want to spend on the editing process, and
- how much money you want to invest.
The good news is that many of the content editing tools mentioned above offer a free version or a free trial, so you can try them out and see which ones work best for you.