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Editor helps you out where spell check fails, and it now supports Word


I first found (and bought) Editor back when I was editing English text for Gramlee. It's a unique, and pretty amazing, piece of software; its work starts where your spell checker stops. It catches all sorts of potential grammar and usage problems, and its alerts are informative enough for you to learn and make your own judgement call on whether or not you wish to change your text.

Editor is made by Elaine and John Thiesmeyer, who are professors of English and teachers of writing. As you will no doubt notice when using the program, they are indeed English professors and not coders. That means that, back when I was using Editor, it had no support for MS Word at all, and the whole interface was rather antiquated (the history page says that Editor has been under development since 1982). On the other side, the on-screen text and the documentation are a pleasure to read; the writing is far better than that of your run-of-the-mill technical documentation.

In fact, back when I was using it, I cobbled together a set of macros for Word and sent it to Serenity Software for their use as a gift (they were very nice about it). And now, two years later, a new version of the Editor has been released, and it has support for Word (full disclosure: Elaine and John tell me that some of my code is still in there, and they have even credited me in the documentation). The interface is still far from slick, at least according to the screenshot, but the amazing functionality more than makes up for it.

If you do any sort of serious writing, Editor is one fantastic piece of software. Its usage notes and the amount of control that you have over it leave After the Deadline far behind. For some specific examples of the kind of stuff it catches (taken from the product page), keep on reading after the fold.

  • The police told him to seize and desist: should be "cease and desist."
  • There are times where I feel despair: should be "times when."
  • I was bored of the whole discussion: should be either "bored by" or "bored with."
  • He brought me a cold glass of water: makes no sense. A glass of cold water?
  • Our forbears explored this continent: homonym error; use "forebears."

As you can see, this is some pretty serious error catching. The program takes thought and judgement into account; it's not a "next, next, next" thing. You have to read the advice and decide whether or not you want to follow it, but in the end, it can certainly make you a better writer.

Tags: editing, education, english, text