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Monday, March 4, 2013

Online Editing Software: Pro Writing Aid vs. AutoCrit

Last August, I posted about my experience with AutoCrit Editing Wizard. Since then, a member of one of my Google+ writing communities recommended Pro Writing Aid, which is very similar to AutoCrit. Both tools allow you to paste a block of text and analyze it for a variety of potential problems. Both have free online versions and expanded subscription packages for purchase. This weekend, while editing Book Two of the Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy, I gave them a side-by-side test drive using a chapter from this work-in-progress.

As you may recall, last year I signed up for AutoCrit's $77/year premium package. I compared Pro Writing Aid's free tools against the AutoCrit premium package, and discovered my $77 was probably not well spent. Don't get me wrong--I like AutoCrit. It has some excellent tools and I probably got my money's worth out of it a long time ago. However, the free version of Pro Writing Aid does virtually everything AutoCrit does, and more.

I'm not going to bore you with a side-by-side comparison, as many of the same features are available on both tools. This Pro Writing Aid page has a side-by-side comparison (remember--this is their own page, so account for some potential bias). As you can see, Pro Writing Aid has more features, especially for free. I know more is not always necessarily better, but when it comes to free, it's hard to beat. To be fair, there are a few features available on AutoCrit that aren't available on Pro Writing Aid (Homonym and Readability reports), but unless you cannot live without these AutoCrit-specific reports, Pro Writing Aid is hard to ignore.

Comparing the sentence variation tool each offers, Pro Writing Aid provides a similar, yet more detailed report than AutoCrit. I also found some report output variation between the two. For instance, although using my same block of text produced nearly identical overused words reports, the cliche reports were quite different. Analyzing the exact same text, the Pro Writing Aid Wizard found the following cliches:

  • give me a hand
  • taken aback
  • in your face
  • hard to swallow
  • wasted

While the AutoCrit Wizard found these cliches:
  • sleep on it
  • true love
  • none the worse
  • the worse for
  • the worse for wear
  • pass the time
  • in the market
  • deep down
  • dashed hopes

Obviously, they're not carbon copies of each other, as there were no duplicate cliches between the two. This test suggests there may be some value in using both, if love to go over your writing with a fine-toothed comb.

I did notice a few oddities (errors?) with Pro Writing Aid, although personally, I would consider them negligible. For example, the consistency report summary indicated 51 hyphenation problems, although when trying to find them in the text, they did not appear. AutoCrit is faster in analyzing text. In my 4,000-word block, Pro Writing Aid took around 15 seconds to analyze the text, whereas AutoCrit was done in about 4 seconds.

In summary, the Pro Writing Aid free version gives you more reports and features than AutoCrit premium. If you are considering using an online editing tool, I'd suggest comparing the two yourself, or starting with Pro Writing Aid if you're not a comparison shopper. After all, good free stuff is hard to pass up.


Source: sxc.hu via CM on Pinterest
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