I dread editing.

I love pre-writing, researching, writing and revising academic papers.  But editing is my greatest weakness.  However, there are several free online editing tools that make editing easier and less painful.  There is even one online resource that makes it fun.

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

This is my list of the top 8 free online editing resources that will immediately improve your academic writing. They are online editing tools I love.  But, I’m not affiliated with any of the companies or people who created them.  And for this post, I only used free accounts or free versions of these resources.

Top 8 Free Editing Tools of Writing


#1 Hemingway Editor

Hemingway Editor http://www.hemingwayapp.com 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.

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.  See how Hemingway Editor works in my post:  “Hemingway Editor: The Secret Online Editing Tool for Powerful Writing”   https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/hemingway-editor-secret-online-editing-tool-powerful-writing/

The example below is a part of the first draft of a blog post I wrote.  My readability score is on the right. My text is highlighted in different colors.

Hemingway Editor Tool for Writing

The elements that 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
  • Yellow (Peach)—sentences that are hard to read
  • Red (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.  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)

Of all the online tools on my list this is the only one that is collaborative. With Google Docs you can edit with another person in real time. 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 and talk about it with you.

And because you’re editing with another person this approach to editing is the most fun.

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.  Once you have that share link you can both work together on revising and editing a piece of writing.

Process for Sharing Google Docs: 

  1. Click on the blue share button.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. Now, when you 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

Process for Using Google Docs with Video Conferencing:

  1. Open your video conferencing software of choice (Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

8 Free Online Editing Tools

#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 embarrassingly high. So, I won’t tell you that number.

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


#4 After the Deadline

After the Deadline http://www.afterthedeadline.com/  analyzes your text and looks for issues with the writing style, spelling, and grammar.  It shows you where you have spelling and grammar errors.  It also makes suggestions for changing the style of your writing.  The great thing about After the Deadline is it explains why you should change something.

Here’s how After the Deadline works:

  1. Visit the website and click on the menu choice that says demonstration or visit this URL http://www.polishmywriting.com/.
  2. Copy and paste your text into the box.
  3. Click “check writing.”
  4. Go through the areas After the Deadline underlines and correct errors and look at the suggestions for grammar changes and style changes.
  5. Make changes and then copy and paste your text into your document.

There are also extensions and add-ons you can get for your browser etc.  I haven’t tried these, so you need to investigate those options on your own.


# 5 Slick Write

Slick Write https://www.slickwrite.com/ is an awesome online editing tool.  I just discovered Slick Write, and I’m very excited about everything it does.  Slick Write checks your grammar, writing style, sentence structure and the vocabulary you use.  It underlines and highlights different issues in the text.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit the website homepage and then click on the button that says “start writing” https://www.slickwrite.com/#!edit
  2. Copy and paste your writing into the text box. Click check.
  3. You will see at the top of menu bar that there is a choice of features, structure, and vocabulary.
  4. Click on one button and then view it and make changes. Do this for each category.
  5. Now you can save your text and download it in a text file or copy and paste it into your document.
  6. Also, you can upload your document into Slick Write.  Just click on the option says that “open” on the menu on the left.  Then select your file. Once it uploads the rest of the process is the same.

My favorite thing about Slick Write is that it explains the issues it underlines and highlights.  It’s a very informative online tool!


#6 Cliché Finder

Cliché Finder http://www.clichefinder.net/ looks at your text and finds clichés.  Clichés are common expressions that people overuse.  You hear clichés in daily conversation. They are a quick way to convey a concept or idea to another person.  For example Laughter is the best medicine. 

The problem with clichés is when they appear in writing.  A cliché makes your writing seem amateurish.  A better way to write is to describe exactly what you mean.   However, clichés are hard to spot in your own writing.

Cliché Finder will do that for you.  Copy and paste your text into the box and click find clichés.


#7 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.


#8 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 free online editing tools will improve your academic writing. If you’re like me and find editing painful, try some or all these free online editing tools.  See which ones are the most helpful to you.  Just remember nothing takes the place of you reading, revising and editing your work.   

If you want to learn more about revising and editing out my post “Academic Revising 101: The Essential Essay Revision Checklist” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/academic-revising-101-the-essential-essay-revision-checklist/

Comment below and share your favorite free online editing tool.  And if you found this post helpful please share it online.