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Hemingway Editor Review: Does It Actually Work? (2020)


Good writing is more than just putting big words on paper and sounding smart. And as a matter of fact, this exact approach can make your writing much less reader-friendly. Unless you’re writing heavy content, there’s really no need to over-explain yourself. Don’t alienate your readers (or potential ones) based simply on your word choice. But how can you tell just how complicated your writing is?

One handy tool is the Hemingway Editor. It’s a browser-based web tool that aims to simplify your writing in order to help you expand to a wider reader base.

Pretty neat, right? However, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind. The Hemingway Editor is not an in-depth grammar tool. It’s not going to tell you piece by piece incorrect grammar or spelling. You’re not going to get full blown reports and suggestions on too many different areas. If that’s what you’re looking for…then I recommend you check out my ProWritingAid review.

Anyway, let’s dive into this Hemingway Editor review and see how it works.

What does the Hemingway Editor do?

The Hemingway Editor works by analyzing 4 different components of your writing. Each of these elements are assigned a hidden value that when averaged together forms the basis of your score.

  • Adverb Usage
  • Passive Voice
  • Simple Word Choice
  • Difficulty to Read

And while the program may seem extremely limited (Heads up, it is.), it’s also an exceptionally useful tool to learn how to tighten up your writing.

In order to get started, you’ll need to head over to their website ( and have your writing ready. Once there, you’ll see a screen full of text and highlights. That’s the text interface. You’ll need to copy and paste your work directly into that text field–just be sure to remove the sample text.

hemingway-editor-review-text-fieldAfter pasting your work in, the Hemingway app gets to work. The first thing that you will notice is the different color highlights that appear throughout your text.

  • Blue:
    • These color highlights indicate an adverb. Too many adverbs can make your writing too long-winded or difficult to read. If you’re seeing an overabundance of blue, be sure to review those sections and remove the adverb as needed.
  • Green:
    • Green highlights signify where you are using passive voice. There’s nothing wrong with passive voice within your writing–as long as it’s used in moderation. When the majority of your text is written in passive voice, the text becomes dull. It’s like dragging your feet while you’re walking. Change up passive voice into active voice whenever you can to improve and lower your score.
  • Purple:
    • Are you a big fan of difficult words? If so, the Hemingway Editor might not be too kind to you in this department. While you might not have issues with bigger words, your readers may. And that can cause a serious problem. Readers who can’t understand what they’re reading will stop reading. So if the Hemingway App discovers a simpler alternative, it’ll let you know what it is.
  • Yellow:
    • Hard-to-read sentences are highlighted in yellow. But what constitutes a hard-to-read sentence? These could be sentences that are too long, have multiple adverbs, or contain confusing words. Normally, you can fix hard-to-read sentences by simply choosing easier words and phrases–or shortening your sentence length.
  • Red:
    • These are very hard-to-read sentences. In my opinion, this is one of better features of the Hemingway App. This highlight picks up extremely wordy sentences or others with gross punctuation errors. Red highlights will be caused run-on or confusing compound sentences as well. If you’re looking to really tighten up your writing, you should adjust your writing to remove every red highlight.

score-highlights-hemingway-editorWhat exactly does the Hemingway score mean?

OK. So the Hemingway app will give you a score that represented what reading level your writing is at. Difficult writing will result in a higher reading level score. Now, there are a couple of different sources out there that will tell you what reading level is best–and they’re all different. However, one thing remains constant. You’ll have the most success with the most people at a lower grade reading level.

James Patterson–aka One of the Most Prolific Writers ever–has claimed that he likes for his novels to be written around a fifth grade reading level.

But that doesn’t mean you need to gut your work in order to make it friendlier. Utilize Hemingway’s highlight system to pinpoint problem areas and adjust accordingly.

How much does Hemingway Editor cost?

Perhaps one of the best parts about the app is that it’s completely free to use.

Now, there is a paid version of the app. But to be honest, I really don’t think it’s worth it. The paid version lets you export your inserted Hemingway text, and that’s about it. However, if you think that this would be useful, it’s right around $20.

What I Don’t Like About the Hemingway App

There’s no way I’m gonna get through this Hemingway Editor review without covering the things that I don’t like about this program.

First, there are some definite issues when it comes to the program’s accuracy. You’ll find that some words will be considered adverbs just because they end in “-ly”. Surely, I can’t be serious, right? But I am…and don’t call me Shirley.

Second, this app isn’t designed for heavy-duty technical writing. If you’re writing about complex material…you’re not going to achieve the best possible score. But that’s ok. Normally, if you’re writing something technical or niche, you’re marketing to a specific audience–one that’s usually in tune with the subject matter.

Third, yellow highlights may annoy you. What may seem like a perfectly fine sentence could be just a single character too long thus triggering the highlight. Some easy-to-read sentences will be flagged. And this will in turn raise the reading level of your text.

Lastly, I don’t see the need for Hemingway to try and brand itself as a word processor. Do not rely upon the extreme limitations of the program when writing. The Hemingway App is best used after writing–and after a legit editing tool such as ProWritingAid.

Hemingway Editor Review: Is It Worth Using?

All things considered, this is still a magnificent writing tool–especially for short or informal writing. It’s not going to do the job of a full-blown editing tool. And that’s just fine. But it will give you a pretty good insight into where your writing stands within your target community.



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