Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

Smart Edit Software Revisited

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 16, 2013

Recently I downloaded the updated version of the Smart-Edit software I’d described below at I ran my work-in-progress through it even though I’d already made corrections based on the last analysis. Guess what? The program still found problems for me to fix.

self editing

Redundancies caught me this time. Here are some examples:

I started off

I flung myself backward from whence I’d come

Hurry up

Under Punctuation, the program pointed out I had two straight apostrophes. These were easy fixes.

Under Acronyms, I discovered I’d shortened medical examiner three different ways—M.E., ME, and M.E missing the final period. I changed them all to the first one. It’s great having a second set of eyes like this to find mistakes.

The program counts curly and straight apostrophes and quote marks. It found two straight apostrophes instead of curly ones. Under punctuation problems, it alerted me that I hadn’t eliminated all the extra spaces.


More new findings:

Overused phrases: “gave me a”, “hands on”, “thank goodness”

Repeated words –“when” 204 times

Possible misused words: Different from or different than, eager or anxious, less than or fewer than. (I’m not sure I understand which one to use. Do you know?)

The new edition also lets you work in word processing software, but I didn’t use this feature.

I repeat my recommendation to try one of these programs after your last round of polishing. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve missed.

Here’s a list of programs, some suggested by readers of my earlier column. I’ve only tried the first two and they’re similar in tasks. They don’t replace the read-throughs you need to do for yourself. Rather, they help you pick up errors, repetitive phrasing, redundancies and such that you might have missed.


18 Responses to “Smart Edit Software Revisited”

  1. Marcia said

    Hi, Nancy! On your recommendation, I downloaded the free version of SmartEdit and loved it, so I bought the upgrade. I have already updated that, too, and think the new version is super. It’s amazing how many times I used the word “UP.” We get up, sit up, speak up, dream up, stand up, wake up, look up….the list is endless. And I don’t even SEE it when I write it. SmartEdit does, though. And allows me to go back and say it differently. Now, when my drafts come back from my editor, there aren’t nearly as many red marks on them. Thanks for the heads up on this one. It was definitely worth the $50.

    • Funny how you overuse the word, “up.” One of my downfalls is the word “down” (pun intended). Sit down, put down, go down. It’s amazing how we can’t see these for ourselves.

      • Marcia said

        Isn’t it? I also am forever “beginning” things. He began to, she began to, it began to, he started, she started, you get my drift. I LOVE the way Smart-Edit catches me out on that. And the adverb count is astronomical. Now, personally, I’m not at war with adverbs, if used judiciously. They’ve been a perfectly acceptable part of the English language for as long as there’s been one. But overusing them can result in lazy writing, for sure, and Swifties are as awful as they were first intended to be, so that’s a no-no. I strive for balance. I look at that long list of adverbs that pops up every time, and check each one to see which can be gotten rid of at once (since many are totally unnecessary), which can lost through a better use of words, and which I think should stay, because saying the line any other way is awkward and unrealistic. SmartEdit is fantastic for those things, and for making sure I haven’t misused a dialogue tag, too. I can’t thank you enough for posting about it.

  2. Oh. I like the sound of it. Is it easy to use? And is it pricy?

  3. Thanks for being the guinea pig.This software sounds perfect for those of us who self-publish. I’ll give it a try (sorry Yoda).

  4. Mona Risk said

    Interesting program. I wish I knew about it earlier.

  5. Addendum and Disclosure: After my honest comments about this software, I received an offer for the full version from the creators. I accepted and ran my work through again. My evaluation remains the same. I would have bought this by now on my own. This software costs $59.95 for a one-time license. The ProWriting Aid, which is just as good, costs $35 for one year only or you can buy a multi-year license. I would say to determine how often you might want to update in making your choice. I have suggested a print feature for the Smart-Edit program. Again, weigh which one suits your needs in terms of analyzing your work and licensing costs before making a choice. And definitely run the free trials to see what each program does for you.

  6. Another author recommends: Style Writer 4 and She says Style Writer 4 costs about $200 and attaches to Word. It’s a “GREAT program and worth the cost.” is online for an annual membership. This one is “WELL worth it. I have the one that is something like $72/year.”

  7. This sounds really nifty…I’ll give it a try for sure. Your writing can never be too clean. 🙂

  8. Re less than/fewer than: Less than is an amount or measure, fewer than is a bunch of individual things. So, for example, “There was less than a cup of water for fewer than a dozen baby chicks to drink.”

    • Marcia said

      Good example, Shelley. Nancy, when I am confused (which is a constant state of mind for me lately), I google like this “less vs fewer” and up pop a bunch of very good sites to help me out. The website that comes up most often is Grammar Girl ( ). She has the easiest to understand explanations of any I’ve found. I highly recommend a stop by her site when you are in doubt, if you haven’t already discovered this. She’s saved me from some big mistakes. Hope this is helpful to you or some of your readers. 🙂

    • Thank you Shelley, I’m going to save your explanation. And Marcia, I’ll check out Grammar Girl.

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