Matthew Devitt - Writer's Blog

Matthew Devitt is a freelance copywriter based in Nürnberg, Germany. Here is a collection of articles, opinion pieces and blogs. Visit www.matthewdevitt.com

3 Free Apps That Will Improve Your Writing … Right Now!

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Do you often wish you were better at writing?

Trust me - we ALL do.

Everybody needs help. The top writers in the world still have editors. Even Michael Jordan needed a good coach.

No matter if it’s for work, study, or just for fun - your writing can always improve. And your energy is best spent focusing on great content, not spelling and grammar.

So how do you become more efficient? Well, there are free tools available that will improve your writing immediately.

Take it from me. Once you start using these - you’ll never write without them.

Sound good?

Ok, here we go…

1) Titlecase.com

It’s likely you have no idea what title case is. In a nutshell, it’s the method of putting titles and headlines in the correct format.

And like all things in writing - there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.

I’ll be honest, I find the rules of capitalizing titles very confusing.

And I do this for a living.

Remember - your title is the very first thing people are going to read. It’s worth taking the time to get it right.

(BTW - if you need some help generating effective blog and article titles, you can even use this free online title generator)

Now, take a look at this well-known example:

“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

On first glance, you can see some words are in capitals, and some aren’t. This is title case in action.

Basically, it’s a formula. And the formula goes like this:

  • Capitalize the first and last words of the title

  • Capitalize the ‘important’ words within the title

Now you’re probably thinking, “Well, what are the ‘important’ words?

And here they are:

  • Adjectives (small, large, boring, etc.)

  • Adverbs (slowly, quickly, quietly, etc.)

  • Nouns (piano, jumper, lamp, chair, etc.)

  • Pronouns (he, she, they, etc.)

  • Subordinating conjunctions with less than 5 letters (as, even, now, who, than, etc.)

  • Verbs (write, type, throw, run, etc.)

…are you confused yet?

I know I am. And I wrote it!

If you really want to know all the ins-and-outs of title case, you can read this very detailed (and very long) list of official rules.

OR … you can do it the easy way.

Go to titlecase.com, copy and paste your text and it will automatically convert it to title case for you.

It offers other formats as well - but that’s a story for another time. Stick with standard title case and you’ll be fine.

So, in conclusion:

Essays, articles, and blogs need correct titles and headings. And with titlecase.com - it’s a piece of cake.

2) Grammarly.com

“Ill-fitting grammar are like ill-fitting shoes. You can get used to it for a bit, but then one day your toes fall off and you can't walk to the bathroom.”

- Jasper Fforde

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an essay, a social media rant, or an email complaining about Sandra in HR. Make sure your grammar is on point.

It’s hard to project integrity if you don’t make sense.

Head to grammarly.com (or install their Safari or Chrome extensions) and you’ll get useful, real-time grammar suggestions.

And it gets even better...

It automatically finds and highlights all of your mistakes. Whether it’s grammar, spelling, or just clumsy wording - hover over the colored text and it suggests a correction. One click - and it makes the change for you.

Also, you may find yourself looking for different versions of a word with the same meaning. We call these synonyms.

Luckily, Grammarly has you covered here as well.

Highlight any word in your document - and a list of alternatives will pop up.

Not only does this help to make your writing more interesting - it teaches you how to be a better writer.

There is also a premium version of Grammarly for about $12 a month. It’s more detailed - and even makes suggestions about your sentence structure. If you’re writing as a job - it’s probably worth a look. If it’s just for your personal use, the free version will do the trick.

In my own experience, Grammarly’s corrections are accurate about 90% of the time. You’ll still have to use some of your own judgment. But generally, it’s pretty obvious if a change is needed or not.

In summary:

Grammarly is helpful, easy to use - and one of the best ways to fine-tune any piece of writing.

3) Hemingway Editor

There isn’t a single article I write these days (including this one) that doesn’t go through the Hemingway Editor.

The website is named after American Nobel Prize-winning writer Ernest Hemingway. It’s an editor, writing coach, and most importantly - it tells you how ‘readable’ your writing is.

And best of all? It’s EASY.

Copy and paste your text into the editor, and it will highlight your sentences in different colors:

  • Sentences without color are free from any obvious mistakes or suggestions.

  • Sentences in yellow are hard to read. You probably want to make these more simple. You can do this by replacing complex words (Grammarly from #2 can do this), shortening the sentences - or both.

  • Sentences in red are very hard to read. They’re complex and hard to follow. These are the sentences you really want to change. Simplify the words, remove any that aren’t needed - and split the sentences if you can.

The app also gives you feedback in real time. Change one pivotal word in the sentence - and the color box can change straight away.

And here’s the best part.

The Hemingway editor also gives you a readability score. The lower the number - the easier it is to read.

Articles with a score between 3 and 8 are generally ideal if you’re speaking to a wide audience.

Scores of 10 or higher mean some people won’t be able to follow (or understand) your writing. This might be ok for an essay, but not if you want broad-appeal.

The website recommends aiming for a score of 9 or below. For blogs, social media, website content etc - this is exactly what you want.

(For the record, this article has a readability score of 3!)

There’s also an app version for your desktop for $19.99. To be honest, unless you’re writing for a living - the free website version is just fine.

So, to wrap this up…

Even if you use just one of these apps - your writing will improve immediately.

But, if you use ALL THREE - your writing will reach a level you never thought possible. Think of them as helpful guides, rather than something pointing out your mistakes.

Over time the editors will start to find fewer and fewer corrections. Do you know why?

Because you’ll be a better writer without even realizing it.

Have you found any great apps that I haven’t included here? I’d love to hear about them.

Just leave a comment in the box below.