Writing is a challenging art form.
From sentence structure to spelling errors, grammatical correctness, punctuation considerations, paragraph length and the overall flow, producing a piece of good quality copy can prove to be a real feat.
As content writing plays a massive part in the contemporary marketing mix of digital communication, it is well worth paying extra special attention to this area of your branding.
To help the writing process along, I’ve rounded up a collection of some of the best writing tools and software to help you write like a pro.
Whether you’re writing web copy for a site build, are blogging on a regular basis, or are sitting down to write your life story in a novel or script, the tools in the list below are bound to help in some or other way.
I’ve broken down this post into three sections:
- Writing (tools that’ll help you focus, stay on track and keep your writing organized),
- Editing (tools that’ll help you refine your writing, kill your darlings and unearth deeply moving and attention-grabbing prose), and finally
- Misc. (tools that don’t really fit into either of the above-mentioned sections but are good to use on a regular basis).
Note: The tools and software mentioned below are not listed in any particular order.
Below is a collection of online writing tools designed to help you write interesting, more engaging and relevant content for your audience.
Whether these written pieces take the form of on-site web copy, email copy, blog posts, an e-book, or even take the form of a novella, script or publication, check out the tools below and let us know what you think of them in the comments section.
First up on the list is Airstory. Airstory is a great tool for either independent writers or teams looking to manage and collaborate on multiple projects.
Airstory is basically made up of Projects and Cards. Cards store text that is reused often, and can be dragged into a project for easy formatting. Projects can be broken down into Tabbed View. This is great for, say, writing web copy, where each tab can be used as a web page, or for a novel, where each tab can become a chapter.
Airstory has a number of incredible features, including:
- Templates. Airstory offers a number of already-written templates for you to use. Templates can be imported into a Project, edited, adapted and exported to suit your needs.
- Citations. Cards can be edited to include source citations. This is extremely useful for those who require reference listings for writing projects – especially academic wiring such as essays or dissertations.
- Chrome Extension. The Airstory Researcher allows you to highlight various text snippets from around the web (quotes, figures, insights, facts) and add them directly into a Project as a Card. This is awesome for those times when you come across a relevant source and want to save it for a specific article.
- Other Apps. Airstory is designed to work perfectly in unison with other leading apps and software. From being able to import documents from MsWord, Google Drive and more, to being able to export Airstory projects into a number of formats, Airstory also includes a plugin that enables Projects to be exported directly into WordPress.
Airstory is an amazing piece of software, but it doesn’t come free. As it is a great solution for writers and teams alike, it’s worth checking out the free 14-day trial.
Write! is a minimalist, distraction-free app that helps writers of all disciplines focus on their tasks.
Write! comes at a price. Once payment is complete, users will receive a download link to download the software and install it on their device. Once up and running, users can explore the interface and begin creating and saving documents.
Write! employs a completely cloud-based system that ensures that all written pieces are stored and saved, and can be accessed from any device, at any time. Somewhat similar to Airstory, Write! offers a “tab-based” system too, where a number of articles can be saved and tab structured per a single project, or “Session”. This is great for those juggling a series of projects at a time.
Write! includes a number of great features including:
- A nifty note taking mode – perfect for if and when users are sitting in lectures, listening to podcasts, attending talks etc.
- Focus mode – which fades out chunks of text except for the one that the user is currently working on.
- A handy tabbed text formatting menu – great for adding a little extra to your writing, the tabbed menu allows you to add formatting (bold, strikethrough, URLs), headings (h1 – h6, blockquotes, lists), and colors to your text, as well as clarify words by using Google search, Wikipedia search, Thesaurus and translate services, all from within the app.
- Intelligent Spellchecker – designed to help you spell check your writing in several languages.
Write! ships with a plethora of features, the list above only scrapes the surface. If you’re interested, definitely check out the app.
If you like the idea of using a minimalist and distraction-free writing app, but don’t need as many features as Write!, consider using Calmly Writer.
Calmly Writer comes in two forms: a web app that can be downloaded and used as a program on your computer, or an online version used from within a web browser.
Upon opening the online version, the user is met with a light gray, blank, page with a very small graphic in the top left-hand corner. As soon as the user begins typing, the graphic fades away, leaving the writer to craft a piece of copy in peace.
As soon as the writer moves his or her cursor, the graphic reappears, which, on click, will reveal a menu. Here, the user can either start a new document or open an existing one (by either importing a document from their computer of Google Drive or returning to a document version backed up by the browser). The user can also save and export a doc (in various formats), and print directly from the app itself.
Finally, Calmly Writer also includes a Focus Mode, Dark Mode, and Full Screen View Mode, and includes a number of preferences/settings including:
- Text output display
- Rad typewriter sounds
- Image inserts
- OpenDyslexic font option
One final minimalist, distraction-free writing tool is ZenPen. ZenPen is a slick, no bells or whistles space that asks the writer simply to write.
- Full-screen mode for a completely distraction-free writing experience,
- A dark view mode,
- A target word count (where, when enabled, a subtle bar measures the progress of words written to reach the target), and
- An easy export option (markdown/HTML/plain text) for those that don’t feel like copying and pasting their text.
Other Writing Tools
Other writing tools that are worth checking out are:
- Twinword Writer: Loads of features, most notably the in-text auto checking of your writing and suggestions of related words and synonyms. Check out the WordPress plugin too.
- The Most Dangerous Writing App: Starts deleting your text if you pause for too long. The only way to save your progress is to keep writing.
- Bear Writer: Great for well-organized note taking.
- Daily page: Offers daily prompts to help you write more frequently and develop better writing habits.
While writing can be a challenge, editing is an entirely new ball game.
Often times, the most effective written pieces are those that have been written and re-written a number of over and over again, and have received countless revisions in editing. While this principle may apply less to blog posts, it certainly applies to web copy and is crucial in the fields of creative writing.
Editing is of grave importance as your readers:
- Will lose interest when reading large paragraphs of text,
- Generally, have a short attention span and need to be communicated to quite carefully,
- Respond better to text that is formatted in attractive, eye-catching ways (bold text, bullet points etc.), and
- Are spelling and grammar fiends.
Check out the editing tools below. They’ll help you craft and refine your copy.
Having been around for some time now, the Grammarly app needs very little explanation.
An online spelling and grammar checker, Grammarly highlights explicit errors, possible errors (the “did you mean”s) and suggests alternative words and phrases (such as alternate spelling, synonyms, etc.).
Text can be copied and pasted into the online document checker (these documents are all stored in the app platform so you’ll always have a backup of your writing, which is great). Alternately, users can download the desktop app.
It is also recommended to download and install the Grammarly app extension (available for Chrome and Safari), which will see Grammarly check your writing around the web (when publishing a WordPress, FaceBook or similar post, or while writing an email using online software such as Gmail)
Other useful features of Grammarly include being able to set a language preference (British or American spelling) and to save unique words or terms to your dictionary.
Developed to help writers streamline their text, the Hemingway App helps writers remove superfluous and unessential flowerings of prose.
By scanning through a piece of writing, the Hemingway App will first assess the level of readability of the passage, and then assign it a grading. Then, it’ll suggest ways in which the writer can increase the readability of the text, either by removing unnecessary words, shortening sentences, reducing adverbs and adjectives, or improving the structure of sentences that may be difficult to read.
While the Hemingway App may not be the best tool to use for creative writing purposes, it will help bloggers and content writers craft easy-to-read copy for posts and articles.
Miscellaneous (or Other Cool and Useful Writing Tools)
These tools are not explicitly writing or editing specific, but are great to have close at hand.
Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator
Sometimes, thinking about what to write is more of a challenge than actually writing an article. In these occasions, when you’re simply at a loss of inspiration, consider turning to Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator.
Simply add three nouns that are relevant to your business, category, brand, topic, etc., and hit the “Give me blog topics!” button. The generator will automatically churn out five headlines that could spark a creative thought for an article.
Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer
Generally speaking, crafting copy is often times more important than writing the copy itself. This is particularly important when crafting a headline.
Headlines need to be short, catchy, and interesting, all the while piquing your readers’ interest, standing out from the crowd and conveying the substance of an article.
For extra help in the headline department, check out the Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer. This nifty tool will help you refine your writing by assigning a Grade to your headline (A, B, C etc.). The aim is to keep writing and rewriting your headline until it reaches an A grade (or as close to that as possible).
Transcribing audio files is, in my opinion, possibly one of single the least fun things to do in the entire world. If you’re needing to transcribe audio, I highly recommend using oTranscribe.
Designed to make this task a bit easier, oTransribe – a free online web app – presents a clutter-free interface with which you can either import audio clips (in an array of file formats) or add a YouTube URL from which you can transcribe audio to text.
oTranscribe allows you to set the speed of the audio. Here, slowing down the playback is great as it gives you more time convert audio to text.
oTranscribe has a number of awesome features including:
- Keyboard shortcuts for text formatting (bold and italics), play/pause and a quick shortcut command to add a timestamp.
- Transcription history, where every 5 minutes a version of your document is autosaved
- Easy export options allowing you to download the transcript (in either markdown, plain text or a special oTranscribe format) or to send the file directly to your Google Drive account.
We want to hear from you!
Do you use any of the tools listed above? If so, which one/s do you use, and what’s your opinion of them? If you’re using a great writing tool or software that isn’t listed above, add it to the comment section below, we’ll check it out and add it to the post!
There are a plethora of amazing writing tools, apps, aids and software readily available, far more than we can cover in one mere blog post! We hope that this article has given you some awesome ideas for tools that can help you if you ever find yourself staring at a blank page or screen.
If you have any questions or thoughts you’d love to share, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. We love receiving your feedback!
Thanks for reading!