When you are writing content for the web, there is no reason that you should not turn to the web for a little help. From apps to browser plug-ins, there are tons of tools out there to help you stay focused and write top-notch content. Here are our five favorites.
If you write about the same topic a lot, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of language that includes way too many buzz words and tired cliches. The result is boring, unoriginal content that doesn't inspire much from your readers. To use this tool, just copy and paste your text into the box on the website, and click "Find Cliches." Any offending text will be highlighted--simple and easy.
2. Zen Writer
If distractions are causing you trouble, Zen Writer takes away all opportunities to wander away and get caught up with something other than your writing. It is an app that you install on your computer, and when it is running, it takes up your entire screen so you see nothing other than your work. It also removes all editing and formatting tools so you will not get caught up monkeying around with looks instead of words. This tool is not right for everyone, but it is excellent for procrastinators and dawdlers.
This is a plug-in for Google Chrome that limits the amount of time you can spend on troublesome websites like YouTube, Facebook, and BuzzFeed. This is a great tool for writers who need web access to research topics (so a tool like Zen Writer is too totalitarian) but find themselves mindlessly scrolling through Top 10 lists about kittens instead of working. You set all the parameters including domains and pages and then set a limit for how much time to allow for those locations. When your designated amount of free time is up, all your specified off-limits sites will be blocked. That way, you can still take a break from time to time while not getting carried away for too long.
If you have strong ideas and great organization in your writing, but struggle with irritating things like commas, homophones, and other important but frustrating areas, Grammarly can quickly become your best friend. It will scour your work for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors and offer suggestions to improve your vocabulary usage and sentence structure. There are many ways to use Grammarly. It is available as a Google Chrome extension, as an add-in for Microsoft Office, or as a stand-alone online tool. Just be sure to review the suggested changes as they are all done using an algorithm and are not always accurate.
5. The Readability Test Tool
When you have to write for a specific audience--and all marketing content demands that you do--knowing the readability of your writing is essential. Readability refers to how easily your content can be understood based on vocabulary, sentence length and structure, and syntax. Some audiences prefer content that is considered more difficult (e.g. B2B medical or legal content), while others need content to be crystal clear and simple (e.g. doctor to patient, lawyer to client). This tool gives you a score for the five most common readability indicators. This tool is great because it not only provides you with the various scores, but also what those scores mean.
Great Content, Only Better
While tools to help you focus and refine your craft are great ways to help polish your content, remember that you still have to start with great ideas and a solid draft. Plus, none of these tools will ever replace a human eye, especially when it comes to the complexities of the English language. Use these tools to hone your writing and to learn tricky grammar rules, just do not rely on them as a substitute for careful proofreading and editing.