What is the change in editing that transforms students’ academic papers?

It’s the increase in free online editing tools for writing. Successful writers are great at revising and editing their work.  The same is true for academic writers.  Master revising and editing, and you will turn in a great academic paper.

Today, there are many free online editing tools available to you. These make revising and editing your work easier.  Use them well, and they will make a huge difference in the quality of your college writing.

This is my list of the top 5 free online editing tools that will immediately improve your academic writing. They are online editing tools I love. I’m not affiliated with any of the companies or people who created them. And I’ve only used free accounts or free versions of these resources.

Top 5 Free Editing Tools of Writing

#1 Hemingway Editor

Hemingway Editor http://www.hemingwayapp.com is the first tool I use after finishing my first draft. It’s easy to use and makes a huge difference in the clarity of my writing.

Hemingway scores the readability of your writing. It shows the grade level a person needs to be at to read your essay. Also, it highlights the things in your writing that you can change to make your writing clearer.

Higher grade levels are not the best measure of writing. All writing (even academic writing) should be clear and easy to understand. Just because you’re writing a college paper it doesn’t mean only professors, teachers and scholars should be able to read it.

The example below is a part of the first draft of a blog post I wrote “The Ultimate Guide on How to Organize a Strong Argumentative Essay.” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/the-ultimate-on-how-to-organize-a-strong-argumentative-essay/

Hemingway Editor Tool for Writing

The readability level in the first draft of my post was Grade 9 which is “good”. But I wanted my post to be clearer, so I revised until it’s readability reached Grade 8. Grade 8 is still high for most blog posts. But it is a good level for academic writing.

The elements that the Hemingway Editor highlights are the things that determine your readability score. On the right side, you can see that each of these things is highlighted in different colors.

  • Blue—adverbs
  • Green—passive voice
  • Purple—phrases with a simpler meeting
  • Peach—sentences that are hard to read
  • Pink—sentences that are very hard to read

Hemingway Editor marks these in your writing. Then you can edit your text there. If you like the free online tool you can also buy the desktop app. But, I have only used the free online tool, and I find it suits me fine.

Hemingway Editor is a good place to start with for revising and editing your writing. But nothing can replace a person when it comes to revision. Don’t rely on Hemingway alone.

#2 Google Docs with Video Conferencing Software (Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom)

So, what is the best way to get personal revision and editing help online? It’s Google Docs along with any video conferencing software you prefer. Add video conferencing to Google Docs, and you get a powerful revising and editing resource because you can have other people look at your writing.

Google Docs by itself is great for revising and editing.  It makes it easy to collaborate on writing, revising and editing because you can share your text with anyone who has a shareable link.

How to Share Google Docs: 

  • Click on the blue share button.
  • This gives you the choice of sharing by email or copying a shareable link. You can share by email, but the fastest way to do this with video conferencing is to click the sharable link.
  • Copy the link, and select the option: “Anyone with the link can edit.” But if you want people to write comments and not make any changes to your writing select, “Anyone with the link can comment.”
  • Now, when you can share a paper written in Google Docs with other people, you have a virtual revision partner or group. Getting ideas, comments, and revision help from other people is the best way to advance your skills as a writer.Google Docs for Editing Writing

How to Combine Google Docs with Video Conferencing:

  • Open your video conferencing software of choice (Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom).
  • Open the chat feature, and paste the link. Now everyone on the video call can click on it and open the document at the same time.
  • Select share screen, and then read it, comment and revise your work together.

Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom are each a little different, but these options are available in all them. Skype and Google Hangouts have free group calls. Zoom has a free version that allows free person-to-person calls and group calls for up to 40 minutes. The paid version has unlimited group calls.

I use Google Docs and Zoom in my online tutoring sessions. I think the connectivity and sound are better. I also like the whiteboard feature with markup and commenting tools.

If you haven’t done online revision and editing with a partner or group, I encourage you to do it. Other people can give you feedback and spot things you didn’t see in your writing. The advantage of doing this online together is it saves you time editing. When you finish working with other people online you have a paper with changes already in it.

#3 Grammarly

Grammarly http://www.grammarly.com finds issues an average spell checker and grammar checker cannot. It corrects contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and style. You can use it in MS Word and Google Docs.

Also, it checks your online writing. (This is great when you’re emailing a professor, a teacher, or anyone else who will point out all your grammar mistakes.)

I have mine personalized so Grammarly can keep track of how many mistakes I make, and the type of mistakes I make. This week I learned my vocabulary was above 97% of other Grammarly users. But the number of times I misused commas is too embarrassingly high I won’t tell you.

I recommend using Grammarly for your academic writing. It’s more accurate at finding mistakes than any other grammar and spell checkers.

#4 Wordcounter

Wordcounter http://www.wordcounter.com examines the words in your paper and reports how frequently you use words. You’ll find out if you repeat words many times in your writing. This helps you determine if you want to change words, or remove them.

To use Wordcounter copy your text and paste in the text box, and then click go. Wordcounter analyzes your words and generates a report.

But, if you’re writing an academic paper that has subject-area vocabulary, don’t try to change too many of those words. It’s vocabulary you need to use in your paper. Wordcounter is a good guide for you, but make your own judgments about when to change words.

#5 Viper Plagiarism Checker

Viper Plagiarism Checker http://www.scanmyessay.com scans your text and spots all signs of plagiarized text. It generates a report that tells you the percentage of text that comes from other sources. And it tells you the source of the plagiarism. Here’s an example of a report:

Viper Plagiarism Checker Editing Tool for Writing

Plagiarism is academic dishonesty. If you’ve plagiarized part or all your essay or paper you will be caught. Professors and teachers check for plagiarism. A plagiarized paper can result in failing that paper, the course or even being expelled from your school. See the “Consequences of Plagiarism” https://www.scanmyessay.com/plagiarism/consequences-of-plagiarism.php for details about how horrible your academic life could be if you plagiarize.


Each of these 5 free online editing tools for writing will improve your academic papers. But, revising also involves analyzing and changing the content of your essay or paper.  Revising and editing with other people is a great way to this do this, but self-revision is important too. Especially since you are the expert on your paper topic and you know what you want to say.

Get help with self-revision.  Download the Free Roadmap to Revising Academic Writing and Handing in a Great Final Paper.  Just fill out the form on this page for your copy.