Improve Your Content’s Readability with the Hemingway App
No matter how good you are at writing, there’s probably times when you wish it was better. But it can be time consuming and stressful trying to get it perfect every time. Not only do you want your brand’s content to be engaging, it needs to be powerful and readable too.
Instead of stressing, why not use tools that are simple (and free!) to help make your writing smoother, whilst offering pointers on where it can be improved?
The Hemingway App is a handy tool that promises to make your writing “bold and clear”. This allows your readers to “focus on your message, not your prose”. The app is named after and follows the writing principles of Ernest Hemingway. He is well known for his strong, direct, yet simple prose.
The free web-based tool, or paid-for desktop app, highlights common writing issues and offers ways to strengthen text to make it more readable.
As a brand communicating with your audience, it is so important that your written content is as clear and concise as possible. Even the best writers appreciate a little help at times. The Hemingway App helps to ensure written content isn’t too complicated for audiences of all reading levels.
Can a Piece of Technology Really Help My Writing?
The Hemingway App uses language processing and pattern matching to detect sentences that have readability issues. These issues include the use of passive voice, difficult language and long sentences. (Hemingway himself was a fan of short, simple sentences to convey a message.)
Based on extensive research into readability, the app follows the golden rules of easy to understand text. These include short, familiar words, simple sentences and using the present tense. This may mean writing at a lower grade than you are used to. This means school-age writing rather than in-depth thesis-like language. (In this piece, I’ve had to cut many sentences short to please Hemingway!)
While this can be frustrating for the inner novelist, it ensures readers of all levels can enjoy your content. As a food brand, this is most likely what you want. And of course, it is still possible to communicate complex ideas in a simple way.
Whilst the app may not turn you into a poet, it does promise to strip the irrelevant, unnecessary, complicated and weak parts of your writing. (Hemingway didn’t like that last sentence, it’s too long…)
We find it is the best solution for identifying problem sentences and for improving readability.
Hemingway will leave you with polished, high quality content to represent your brand. It automatically identifies problems in a highly visual way and is a breeze to use.
So How Does the Hemingway App Work?
The app is both a word processor (with a very clean distraction-free interface), and a content editor.
When text is pasted into the app, it is assessed on ‘readability grade’ using an algorithm based on the Automated Readability Index. Anything over a grade 10 is regarded as too complicated and tedious for readers, and most likely full of jargon.
So unless you want your writing to sound like a textbook, it should be edited to help achieve peak clarity. Aim for a reading level of grade 6 to 8 for most website copy and long-form editorial content.
Text that could be improved is automatically highlighted in different colours. Use of passive voice, unnecessary adverbs and hard to read sentences are all exposed. The app also provides simpler alternatives to difficult words.
You can omit words, replace them with alternatives, or edit the word or sentence yourself. The aim is to clear as much of the highlighted text as possible to achieve a better readability grade.
Along with text formatting options, basic stats are also given, such as word count and the average time to read the text. This is useful if you’re trying to keep the content short and sweet.
Whether you’re writing an article, email or leaflet, Hemingway is a great way to tighten up your text.
As well as the ‘edit’ mode with the toolbar down the side, there is a ‘write’ mode that provides a distraction-free board for writing. While useful, we prefer to paste our work into the app from Google Docs or Word so we can ensure it is saved and backed up.
Never Underestimate the Power of Human Eyes
Tools like Hemingway are great but they should not be used blindly and assumed to always be right. Make sure you have a real-life human editor proofread your content before publishing to ensure you communicate your message in a clear manner.
And don’t feel like you always have to follow the rules. (Note the amount of highlighted text from this article in the screenshot above). Sometimes you’ll want to go outside the boundaries of what Hemingway deems to be right to get a point across effectively. Just like I did in the last two paragraphs!