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Hemingway Editor Review: Does It Actually Work? (2023)

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As an author and writer, I’m always looking for tools to help improve my writing and editing process. Hemingway Editor is an intriguing option that caught my attention – it promises to make your writing bold and clear through color-coded highlights and readability metrics.

After testing out Hemingway App Editor extensively, here’s my take:


  • Free online version available
  • Helps identify lengthy, complex sentences
  • Encourages use of active voice
  • Provides readability grade level


  • Limited formatting options
  • No grammar or spelling check
  • Suggestions can be too prescriptive

Bottom Line: Hemingway Editor is best suited for short form writing where brevity and simplicity are key. The tool can help writers avoid complex, winding sentences. However, for long form writing, I recommend a more robust tool: ProWritingAid. Writers should view Hemingway’s suggestions as options, not strict rules.

For those interested in learning more about this writing tool, read on for my full Hemingway App review based on first-hand experience using Hemingway Editor. I’ll cover its features, pros and cons, alternatives, and whether it’s ultimately worth using as an author.

What is Hemingway Editor?

Hemingway Editor is an online writing app designed to make your prose bold, clear, and easy to read. It’s named after author Ernest Hemingway, who was known for his simple, straightforward writing style.

The tool works by analyzing your writing and highlighting issues that make it difficult to read. You simply paste your text into the online editor or write directly in the app. Hemingway then provides the following color-coded feedback:

  • Yellow – Highlights long, complex sentences that are hard to read. It suggests shortening or splitting them up.
  • Red – Identifies confusing long sentences with lots of clauses. You’ll need to rewrite these sentences.
  • Purple – Detects unnecessarily complex words and provides simpler alternatives.
  • Blue – Calls out weak adverbs that can often be removed.
  • Green – Shows use of passive voice that may be improved by using active voice.

In addition to color-coded highlights, Hemingway Editor also provides an overall readability grade level, word count, and metrics on sentence complexity so you can improve the clarity of your writing.

The goal is to help writers communicate ideas as simply and effectively as possible. By avoiding convoluted language, you make your writing accessible to a wider audience.

Hemingway is available as a free online editor as well as a paid desktop app for Mac and Windows. I’ll cover the pricing options next.

Hemingway Editor: Pricing

One of the best aspects of Hemingway Editor is that it offers a full-featured online editor entirely for free. All of the color-coded highlighting and readability metrics are available at no cost for short-term use.

This makes it easy for writers to test out the app and see if the suggestions are helpful before committing to a paid version.

For offline use and more advanced features, Hemingway Editor is available as a paid desktop app for $19.99. Here’s an overview of what’s included in each version:

Free Online Editor

  • Full Hemingway analysis
  • Ability to write directly in editor
  • Can paste up to 1500 words of text
  • Readability metrics
  • Color-coded highlights

Paid Desktop App ($19.99 one-time fee)

  • Use Hemingway Editor offline
  • Write and edit documents directly within the app
  • Export writing in various formats like PDF, HTML, Word
  • Publish documents directly to WordPress, Medium
  • Access full Hemingway analysis
  • Lifetime license and free updates

The desktop app provides helpful options for publishing and exporting your writing. However, the free online editor offers plenty of functionality for most writers, especially if you just want to analyze occasional blog posts or short pieces of writing.

Next, let’s walk through how to actually use Hemingway Editor.

How to Use Hemingway Editor

Hemingway Editor is simple and intuitive to use. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Go to the Hemingway Editor website – This is where you’ll find the free online editor.
  2. Choose “Edit” Mode – This enables all the writing analysis features. The alternative is “Write” mode for distraction-free writing.
  3. Paste your text – Copy and paste up to 1500 words of writing into the main editor window. Or, you can write new content directly in the editor.
  4. Review highlights – Hemingway will process your text and highlight issues in different colors. Hover over each color to see suggestions.
  5. Check the metrics – Glance at the panel on the right for the overall readability grade level plus highlighted adverbs, passive voice, and hard to read sentences.
  6. Make edits – Now, go back through your text and implement the suggested changes. Split up lengthy sentences, remove unnecessary adverbs, change passive voice to active, etc.
  7. Export/publish – If using the desktop app, you can export your writing or publish directly to WordPress and Medium.

That’s the basic process – write or paste your text, review the feedback, and edit based on the color-coded highlights and metrics.

It does take some practice interpreting what each highlighting color means and when to implement the suggestions versus ignoring them. Let’s break this down further.

Making Sense of Hemingway Editor’s Color-Coding


Hemingway Editor’s color-coded highlights are the key to understanding how your writing could be improved. Here’s what each colored highlight means along with tips on when to apply the suggestions:

Yellow Highlights

Sentences highlighted in yellow are considered “hard to read” by Hemingway’s algorithm. In most cases, yellow highlights indicate a lengthy, complex sentence that would benefit from being shortened or split into two.

However, sometimes long sentences are warranted to convey complex ideas or detailed descriptions. Use your judgment on whether to break up yellow sentences or leave them intact.


  • Break apart sentences connected by lots of commas and conjunctions like “and”, “but”, “because”.
  • Consider splitting sentences over 20-25 words.
  • Avoid 3+ clauses connected with commas or semicolons.
  • Evaluate if the long sentence is clear or would benefit from simplification.

Red Highlights

A red highlight indicates a “very hard to read” sentence according to Hemingway. These are sentences with lots of clauses, complex structures, and unusual syntax. They require the most revision to improve readability.

Sentences with red highlighting are nearly always better off being broken into multiple shorter, simpler sentences of 5-15 words. Or, do some heavy rewriting.


  • Break these sentences into 2-4 shorter sentences
  • Isolate independent clauses – convert dependent clauses into new sentences
  • Remove any unnecessary words
  • Rewrite using a more straightforward sentence structure

Purple Highlights

Purple highlighting indicates word choice issues. When you hover over these purple words, you’ll see Hemingway Editor’s simpler suggested replacements.

However, beware of blindly accepting the simpler substitutions, as they are not always appropriate. Assess each purple-highlighted word and only replace those that don’t fit the context.


  • Consider the suggested substitutions, but don’t automatically replace purple words, which are not necessarily “errors”.
  • Replace unnecessarily complex or obscure words with common equivalents.
  • But maintain purple words that represent a specific meaning in context or fit your writing style.

Blue Highlights

Hemingway discourages use of adverbs like “suddenly”, “slowly”, “quietly” which it highlights in blue. The rationale is that most adverbs are unnecessary filler.

However, adverbs do serve a purpose such as providing important details on context, manner, frequency, or intensity. Evaluate each blue highlight, but keep adverbs that add value.


  • Delete adverbs that state the obvious rather than adding extra meaning
  • Consider rewriting some adverbs using stronger verbs
  • But maintain beneficial adverbs that enhance meaning

Green Highlights

Green highlights show use of passive voice, which Hemingway recommends changing to active voice in most cases. Passive: “The book was read by the student”. Active: “The student read the book”.

However, passive voice is appropriate in certain contexts, such as scientific writing. Use your best judgment on passive vs. active voice.


  • Change passive constructions to active voice when possible
  • But passive voice is fine when the subject is unknown or less important than the object

Getting familiar with these color highlights takes time and practice. View them as suggestions rather than strict rules. The goal is improving clarity, not dogmatic adherence to Hemingway’s guidance.

Next, let’s see how Hemingway compares to some alternatives on the market.

Hemingway Editor Alternatives

Hemingway Editor occupies a fairly unique niche as a distraction-free writing tool focused on brevity and simplicity. However, there are some other Hemingway app alternatives writers may want to consider:

Hemingway Editor vs ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid is one of the top editing tools for long-form writing like books and novels. It goes far beyond Hemingway’s capabilities to provide in-depth writing style analysis, contextual grammar and spelling checks, and editing suggestions.

However, ProWritingAid costs $70 per year for the premium version compared to Hemingway’s one-time $19.99 fee. Ultimately, ProWritingAid is preferable for lengthy manuscripts while Hemingway shines when analyzing short-form blog posts and articles.

Hemingway Editor vs Grammarly

Grammarly focuses on comprehensive grammar, spelling mistakes, and punctuation checks. It also has a smooth integration across various writing platforms. However, Grammarly does not provide the stylistic feedback and simplicity metrics of Hemingway Editor.

Grammarly Premium costs $12-$30 per month. The free version is comparable to Hemingway. For short form writing, Hemingway and Grammarly Free have complementary strengths regarding clarity and grammar.

Other Alternatives

Here are a few other online writing tools to consider that provide some overlap with Hemingway Editor:

  • Ginger – Grammar checker with text rewrite capabilities and readability metrics
  • StyleWriter – Focuses on plain language, conciseness
  • Slick Write – Provides readability scores and writing style feedback
  • – Readability analysis and scoring
  • Microsoft Word – Provides grammar and spelling analysis

None offer an identical feature set as Hemingway Editor. Writers should choose the tool that best fits their writing goals and content types.

So ultimately, is Hemingway Editor worth using? Let’s sum up the key pros and cons.

Verdict: Is Hemingway Editor Useful for Writers?

Pros of Hemingway Editor:

  • Encourages clear, simple writing through color-coded highlighting
  • Helps identify areas where sentences could be shortened or simplified
  • Readability grade level provides useful benchmark for writing improvement
  • Free online version allows test driving the tool at no cost
  • Low one-time fee of $19.99 for desktop app

Cons of Hemingway Editor:

  • Suggestions can sometimes be too rigid or prescriptive
  • No grammar, spelling, or punctuation checking capabilities
  • Minimal integration or exporting options beyond desktop app
  • Limited customization compared to more robust editing tools

The Bottom Line:

Hemingway Editor is an intriguing writing tool for analyzing sentence structure and simplicity. The color-coded highlights provide helpful visual feedback. However, the suggestions should be viewed as options, not strict rules.

For short form blog posts and articles, along with academic writing, content marketing, etc. Hemingway Editor is a handy tool to tighten up rambling or unclear sentences. But it lacks the necessary features for extensive editing or long-form manuscript writing.

Writers should use Hemingway as a supplement to other editing tools, not a one-stop solution. The free online version makes it easy to test on short writing samples before deciding if the paid desktop app is warranted.

While not without some flaws, Hemingway Editor succeeds at encouraging bold, clear writing free of convoluted language. With practice, the highlighting system can help any author improve the flow and readability of their prose.

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