Hemingway Editor: A Proofreading Tool for Writers

Ernest Hemingwayby C.K. MacLeod

Updated May 30, 2023

Proofreading tools are an easy way to help you see and fix potential problem areas in your writing. For years I’ve been using the Hemingway Editor created by Adam and Ben Long. It’s a standalone program that costs $20 US, and you can download it to a PC or a Mac computer. You can also try the free online version. It’s most helpful if your aim is to make your writing clear.

How it Works

The Hemingway Editor highlights common problems that can get in the way of clear writing:

  • Complex words or phrases
  • Extra-long sentences
  • Long sentences
  • Too many adverbs
  • Too many instances of passive voice

It colour codes each potential error type, so you can address them one at a time. You can see an explanation of each error type here.

The app won’t tell you

  • how to fix long sentences (shorten them),
  • what to do with adverbs (delete most of them), or
  • how to handle too many instances of passive voice (rewrite the sentence in the active voice—sometimes), but…

…it will suggest simple words for complex ones.

The Hemingway Editor (and other revision tools like it), will give you something to correct in your first draft, just minutes after you’ve written it. This makes it a terrific tool for on-demand writing with tight deadlines.


Quick Steps

To use the Hemingway Editor, copy your text from your word processor and paste it into the text editor. Click on the Edit view to see areas that may need your attention.

Alternatively, you can write right in the app, in the Write view.


You can make corrections in the Hemingway Editor, and copy and paste your corrected text back into your word processor. Or, you can go back to your original text in your word processor and make changes there.

The newest version of Hemingway (2.0) will now allow you to add headings and paragraph styles, and if you decide to save the file as a Word doc, the heading and paragraph styles will show up in Word. You can also export your file in markdown.

Note: I use the PC version of the Hemingway Editor, and I’ve found that it works well for short texts, such as articles, newsletters, and blog posts.

Keep in mind, the Hemingway Editor is a simple text editor with proofreading features. Hyperlinks, bulleted lists, and images will not transfer as-is. You will lose some of the formatting.

The Hemingway Editor is an excellent tool, especially for the price (you can’t beat the free version!).

If you don’t want to use a separate program to revise your writing, and you already use Microsoft Word for editing and proofreading, try some of the revision macros on this blog. They’re free, and so is the 20-Minute macro course that will teach you how to use them.

Image by Thor

20 thoughts on “Hemingway Editor: A Proofreading Tool for Writers”

      1. The Hemingway app is great and the chrome Orwell App is even better because it’s embedded in the browser. This makes editing WordPress articles much easier.

        I have been using Grammarly, and will compare the two, over the course of a couple weeks.

        1. I’d love to hear what you think about Grammarly and the Orwell app, Dmitri. I recently removed the Orwell app from my browser because I found that it wanted to edit my wriing when I wasn’t quite ready to edit (I work better if I can keep drafting and editing as separate processes). Perhaps I should have a look again.

  1. This app can also be used online for free (a good way to try before you buy). The price for the downloadable desktop version has gone up to $9.99 (US), though.

    1. Iggy,
      An online try-before-you-buy feature. Fabulous! Adam and Ben Long have been busy. I’ve changed the price in the post. Thanks for the update!

  2. The Hemingway Editor is certainly one of the best writing tools in the market. You want your writing to be more prolific and accurate, it’s one of the best platforms available to help you in that.

    Years of extensive personal use indicate that Hemingway Editor is effective in conditioning the brain when it comes to problematic adverbs and phrases. Writing becomes easier and automatic.

    What a gift to writers!

    1. Carl,

      I’m a developmental editor, so I’ve had the privilege of working with lots of writers. I do recommend that writers try Hemingway, to see what they can learn about their writing. I found that it’s a wonderful teaching tool.

      Hemingway hasn’t been around all that long, but writing feedback has. So whether you use a writing tool, and/or work with a editor, feedback can most definitely lead to writing growth!

  3. My only problem is how it demands I write somewhere below Grade 10. I tried to use it for my writing class but I was reprimanded because I was supposed to write in college level. Many of my words were dumb down.

    It’s actually a good app when I’m writing for my story.

    1. I see where you’re coming from. Keep in mind that good writing is clear writing. And if you can find a simpler way to say something, that’s better for the reader. So, who’s your reader?

      When writing for an academic environment, the key is to know your reader. Is it a prof? Students in your discipline? Then go ahead and use the terminology of your discipline because your readers will understand that. (In fact, your prof may be assessing your ability to use the vocabulary of your discipline). Depending on your audience, it doesn’t always make sense to use the vocabulary that Hemingway suggests.

      As with any writing tool, it’s important to use your judgement. For academic writing, Hemingway shines at helping you break up long sentences and reduce the use of unnecessary words and passive voice, so your writing is clear and easy to understand. Any prof should appreciate that.

  4. I recently came across the Hemingway Editor and am giving it a try on my newest novel. I decided to check online to see what others thought of the tool. This is how I happened upon your article. Thank you for the detail. One extra bit of information that I ran across that I thought I would share is the program Ginger. It is similar to Grammarly, but in my opinion superior because it’s free version can run on Word so you can make changes right on your document. Or, maybe I am just using Grammarly wrong. In any case, just thought I would share.

    1. Deanna,
      Thanks for much to the tip! You’re right: there are definite advantages to tools that work in Word. I’ll add Ginger to my list of tools to explore.

      C. K.

  5. I hate it that it keep wanting me to write at the 5th-grade level! it means simple vocabulary and short sentences.

    1. Marta,
      Are you writing fiction or nonfiction? What do you know about your intended audience’s reading level? You can use that as a guide….

  6. Write an entry into it, select the whole text, accidentally hit any key to cause an unwanted edit, and bang! that text is gone and command-Z won’t bring it back!

    I wrote a long piece in Hemingway, edited the piece till Hemingway thought it was clean writing. And I decided I loved the piece and wanted to share it. So I highlighted the whole text to copy and paste in my journal and save it forever. But I accidentally tapped a key and that replaced all I’d written. I thought a Command-Z would undo the accidental edit. Nope. All I’d written was now completely gone.

    I’ve tested this again, wondering how a text editor can disallow you to Undo an edit. It will allow edits if you change a few words within your text. But change the whole entry at once and it seems to assume you have started a new entry, and there’s no going back. I resent learning this the hard way, and don’t understand why this is a feature. Now I’m looking for a text editor that autosaves every couple minutes. And no, Text Edit doesn’t suit; it has its own dangerous quirks which is why I was writing my thoughts into Hemingway.

    I like Hemingway otherwise.

    1. I wrote “I like Hemingway otherwise”.

      But not entirely. Another issue came to mind. It should let you select grade level. If I write for adults instead of 5th graders, I should be able to do it without seeing a wall of color.

      1. Chris,
        I see the potential of your idea. I’d recommend contacting the creators of Hemingway to see what they think.

    2. Chris, Ouch. Are you using the free online version of Hemingway or the $20 desktop version? You should be able to compose a text in the desktop version without losing your work. If you’re using the free online app, I’d recommend writing in another app on your computer (I work in Word or Scrivener), saving the file, and then and copying and pasting to Hemingway for your language check.

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